Johnstone and Derick founders of Ufanisi Power Backup System felt the urge to tackle the frequent power blackouts in their community. The name Ufanisi is Swahili for Breakthrough. This is after the duo successfully came up with their first model of power solution in March, 2017 which they believe is superior to the existing ones in the market.
For starters, the Ufanisi Power is superior since it’s a hybrid system that uses both electricity and solar but maximizing on the solar, therefore it provides uninterrupted power supply. Secondly, it costs less than the others since they fabricate the system themselves. Thirdly, it has the capacity to sustain more power since it can be customized to fit a client’s need. One backup can support operations at a restaurant for an entire day. Fourthly, they use a Quality Assurance Consultant to ensure the components they use are of high standards and lastly, they buy the solar supply parts from a certified company.
During the interview Johnstone asks “Imagine going to a barbershop, only for the power to go off when you half way through your hair cut?” he paused, “It is very embarrassing for a business owner. You have to keep the customer waiting, unaware of when it will be back.”
This has been the situation for the numerous small businesses and households in this community. Lots of them come to a standstill on such blackout days. The easiest way to deal with the blackout is using candles. These candles may cause fire outbreak when untended. There have been several cases reported. When it comes to the use of generators, they also have their pros and cons. A major disadvantage being that the small enterprises cannot afford to buy generators. If they do, the maintenance cost becomes a hurdle. For households or businesses who use paraffin for their lamps, it was quite a shocker as the fuel prices have been increased.
Johnstone says they have lots of plans having successfully qualified for the Somo grant. These include; increasing bulk purchase of materials and importing of solar panels to reduce on cost of production, making bigger units that would sustain big organizations like schools and supermarkets, looking into partnering with Gear Box to continuously assist them with research and development and lastly adding complementary products like fire sensors that would work with the backup.
He is proud to have applied for the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp. He says Somo is giving the poor the ability to earn which is so much better than providing aid. “You know you can’t feed someone for lets say over 10 years, you have to teach them how to fish. These kind of business we are all starting will last even after Somo.”