Josephine Mukamurenzi & Alex Rusangiza
Alex Rusangiza and Josephine Mukamurenzi live in Kanazi cell, Bugesera district in rural Rwanda. They are married with two children. He is a mason and self-made entrepreneur doing business since 2011. He owns a shop in which he sells local products, charges mobile phones and sells beverages. Alex and Josephine take shifts in the shop. Alex works as a builder during the day while his wife takes care of the shop. Once Alex returns from work he takes over the shop so that Josephine can attend to the house duties.
In February 2014 Alex purchased a 120 W Mobisol solar home business system. The business system includes the MobiCharger and 20 solar lanterns. The MobiCharger can charge up to 10 mobile phones or solar lanterns at the same time. Alex has heard about solar home systems from Mobisol staff in Nyamata town about 5 km from his house. It was in January 2014 and he was very interested because up to that time he was using a car battery for charging phones which he had to recharge regularly in town. This is a quite common practice in off-grid areas and an expensive as well as time-consuming one.
Alex had to go to Nyamata every two or three days to recharge his battery. In addition to the 400 RWF for transport he paid a fee of 800 RWF per charge at the local recharging station. Due to the lack of a charge controller, which prevents deep-discharge and overloading the battery had to be replaced every year at a price of 75,000 RWF which is not only costly but also environmentally unfriendly.
Now Alex uses a Mobisol system and he can charge phones every day without having to go to Nyamata to recharge his car battery. Additionally he rents out the lanterns for 1,000 RWF per month and charges the same lanterns for 100 RWF per charge. Thanks to the bright LED lights and television which are included in the system package he draws more customers in for beverages. During the World Cup Alex is showing the matches and is charging 100 RWF per person. While Alex made 20,400 RWF monthly profit with his phone charging business before purchasing his Mobisol system, he now makes 36,900 RWF profit with mobile and lantern charging – an increase of over 80%, even though he is still paying off his Mobisol solar home system and paying a monthly fee of 31,500 RWF.
Alex no longer relies on candles or kerosene lamps which are harmful to health and the environment. Now his home is always illuminated and more customers are coming to the shop at night-time.