Thomas de Wijn - Solar Works!
Interview with Thomas de Wijn - Solar Works!
Countries active: South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Angola, Mozambique
1. How could you best describe your organization?
We’re passionate about bringing to market high quality, well-designed, yet affordable solar products that provide lighting and electrical power to consumers in emerging markets where electricity isn’t available or reliable. We offer a range of products that work well in environments ranging from rural to urban, and from shacks to small homes.
2. What makes your products different from others?
One of our key insights is that even people with limited purchasing power don’t want to have a poor quality or ugly-looking product; they don’t want a “poor man’s lamp”. This is why we make products that have an aspirational design that people are proud to own and put in their house. Another key aspect of our products is that most of them can be charged with alternative power sources (anything between 5V and 24V) and will provide light for more than one typical usage day. This way, our products don’t leave people in the dark after a rainy day.
3. What customers can expect from Solar Works!?
They can expect beautiful products that are well-designed, do a great job at fulfilling their energy needs and that have a passionate team behind them to ensure customer satisfaction all throughout the products’ life cycle. We pride ourselves in giving excellent after sales service and helping customers and store owners with commercial support and good warranties.
4. Why did you start working in the green energy business?
It’s one of those markets where you can still really make a difference to people’s lives, and this makes it a lot more rewarding than working to get a new moisturising day cream into the supermarkets for a large multinational, as I was doing before joining SolarWorks!
5. What have been until now your biggest obstacles while expanding to South Africa?
At a company level, one of the biggest challenges has been working capital. The lead times involved in the manufacturing and distribution process means a lot of time goes by between the procurement of components at the start of the process, and receiving payment for goods sold at the end of it. Another point that is a bit more difficult than we anticipated is finding good and loyal people especially for more senior positions.
6. How can SANEC help with positioning of SolarWorks! In South Africa?
SANEC offers a great opportunity for us to come into contact with other companies that operate in Southern Africa. We get a lot of benefits from sharing experiences, working together, and learning from these companies.
Additional information for the SANEC network
Netherlands: Thomas de Wijn, firstname.lastname@example.org, +31628785987
South Africa: Arnoud de Vroomen, email@example.com, +27780200747