Why Sendea?

The solar off-grid industry in Africa and Asia nowadays is mainly dominated by international manufacturers or distribution companies.

However, the establishment of local solar companies, which work independently and are majority owned by domestic entrepreneurs, is important for sustainable job creation in the off-grid industry.

Entrepreneurs of local SMEs are individuals who know the local market. They realize the features and requirements of the market, and establish close relations with the customers and sellers. Especially close relations with the customers provide superiority to these enterprises, which large enterprises cannot achieve.

Small and medium enterprises (SME) are the main driver for innovation, poverty reduction, employment generation and social integration. The lack of small and medium enterprises (SME) in developing countries is a significant obstacle - commonly referred to as "the missing middle".

SMEs require little capital, have the quality to make a quick decision, work with manual labour and in low level of management expenses. While microenterprises typically stay small, SMEs are designed to grow: they start with a few employees, but with the right support they are able to scale, create sustainable jobs upwards of 200 or more and deliver reliable services to needy customers.

Young off-grid companies face a double deficiency:

1. Small and unknown

  • Difficulties to get products due to the small order size these young companies have.
  • Not big enough to get support for business and management support.
  • Strong restrictions in accessing required capital: "Wait-and-see" attitude of investors, no loans from local banks or only with unfavorable lending conditions.

2. Lack of knowledge exchange

For young entrepreneurs it is very difficult to get information and exchange field experiences about products, customer service, or general management. 

The need for the opportunity to share experiences with other entrepreneurs is evident. It remains important not only for the early stage, but also during the growth of the company.

Standard business development services are not always enough to help promising SMEs succeed.

They usually focus on just one topic and only address part of the problems of the company, for instance support to write a business plan or to get technical training.

And typically the business development services are done by consultants or interns, who accompany the enterprise for a short time, provide some input, but let the entrepreneur again alone putting this input into practice.