Dutch company NOTS Solar Lamps plans to establish a factory in Rwanda to manufacture solar lighting solutions for home and business. CEO Bart Hartman discusses the reasons why, and plans for future market expansion.
Click here to listen to the conversation
Rwanda has set to achieve 100 per cent electricity across the country by 2024 and the private sector is expected to work hand in hand with the government towards achieving this goal.
Finally Low-income Rwandans Can Get Electricity, As Cheapest Solar System Hits The Market.
Rwandans who are off-grid will soon get access to electricity for just Rwf 525 per week. This unique proposition is an initiative of NOTS Solar Lamps Ltd, an impact enterprise with the goal of providing affordable electricity to about 900,000 Rwandan families through a NOTS’ MUTIMAX Solar System (MSS) for Rwf 52,500 on credit. Once the payment is completed, the family will enjoy free electricity.
NOTS is featured prominently in an article in ‘De Geldgids’; a booklet about investments that is annually published by the ‘Consumentenbond’, the largest consumer / investor interest organization in The Netherlands. The article describes NOTS’ green bonds, which NOTS uses to fund the loans for Rwandese households that want to buy a solar home system on credit.
NOTS entered into a partnership with ComzAfrica Ltd, a company that sells airtime on credit in Rwanda and 13 other Sub-Saharan countries. The purpose of the NOTS – ComzAfrica partnership is to provide NOTS with an ICT platform for credit assessment, prospect selection, auto-withdrawal and default rate management. The NOTS platform will be an adapted version of the platform ComzAfrica is using for selling airtime on credit.
NOTS Solar Lamps Rwanda Ltd signed a partnership agreement with MTN Rwanda. The main elements of this exclusive agreement are: the NOTS solar products will be MTN co-branded; the NOTS products will be distributed via 1.500 – 2.000 selected MTN stores; NOTS will utilize the MTN mobile money platform for selling the solar products on credit; creditworthy MTN clients (MTN Rwanda has about 4,1 mln clients) will receive an offer for a solar product on credit; and MTN will implement a nationwide publicity campaign to stimulate consumers to go to an MTN store to buy a solar product.
On June 30 NOTS signed an agreement with the Government of Rwanda (‘GoR’) for the implementation of Bye Bye Agatadowa (Bye Bye Kerosene Lamps), the program developed by NOTS to replace all kerosene lamps with solar lamps and home systems by 2020.
With Bye Bye Agatadowa, NOTS commits to provide at least 940.000 households with a suitable solar product before mid 2018, while the GoR will implement a national awareness campaign and will provide 380.000 low-income households with a subsidy to buy a solar home system.
On June 29, 2016 De Volkskrant published an article on the Bye Bye Agatadowa (Bye Bye Kerosene Lamps) program in Rwanda. Under this program the Government of Rwanda will implement a national campaign to explain to the population that replacing a kerosene lamp with a solar lamp has big advantages. Because of Bye Bye Agatadowa the penetration of solar lamps and solar home systems will go from 2% today to 45% in 2018 and 70% in 2020. This is unprecedented; nowhere in Africa is the penetration of solar systems is higher than 5%.
The Government of Rwanda published a Rural Electrification Strategy containing ambitious targets, the realisation of which necessitates a big role for off-grid solar. The main aspects of this strategy are in line with what NOTS proposed as part of the Bye Bye Agatadowa program. The main aspects are: a National Campaign to make the population aware of the benefits of solar home systems; a subsidy for low income households to make a solar home systems affordable; and a risk mitigation facility for selected solar product distributors.
Bart Hartman gives President Kagame an update on the NOTS Bye Bye Agatadowa (Bye Bye Kerosene Lamps) program during the World Economic Forum in Kigali.
During a diner in The Hague Bart Hartman, Founder & Chief Entrepreneur of NOTS, got the opportunity to present a solar lamp to President Kagame of Rwanda. Bart also talked with the President about Bye Bye Agatadowa, a program developed by NOTS to replace all kerosene in Rwanda with solar lamps. Bart will meet in the near future with the minister of Energy of Rwanda to discuss how the Government of Rwanda and NOTS could collaborate to optimize and implement Bye Bye Agatadowa.
Because of the safety and economic situation in Mali we took the very difficult decision to close the activities of NOTS in Mali. Hopefully in the future we can restart our activities because we are still convinced that both our solar lamp and sustainable charcoal activities can have a very positive impact on the livelihood of the Malian population.
Read about the vision of NOTS' founder Bart Harman on Impact Enterprises in a featured article on Virgin.com.
NOTS is the first solar lamp company to sign a contract for the Results Based Financing program in Rwanda. The program, which is financed by DFID, will provide NOTS with a financial incentive of € 1,40 to € 6,40 for every lamp sold, contributing to our goal to replace all kerosene lamps by 2020!
NOTS is also featured in a New Times article which can be found here.
In an interview with Filanthropium, the Dutch platform for directors of charities, NOTS founder, Bart Hartman, speaks about the role of charities, impact enterprises and traditional companies in solving the big problems of this world.
Watch the interview here (in Dutch).
In just 3 weeks, NOTS raises $49,250 through Kiva for one of our solar lamp distributors in Mali. This is one of the largest and fastest funded loans to-date on Kiva and will bring light to about 10,000 people. Thank you the thousands of Kiva donors from all over the world who made this happen!
Meet Daniel, our solar lamp distributor in Mali who will receive the funds by clicking here.
NOTS Mali signs an agreement with the Mali National Union of Cotton Producer Cooperatives, the first step towards bringing solar light to more than 100.000 cotton farmers across Mali.
Watch the signing here.
And the national TV news coverage here (begins at 34:30).
Bart Hartman, founder of NOTS, speaks on a panel at the UN Business Call to Action forum in NYC. The panel, titled "Inclusive Business, Climate Change and Green Leap", also included speakers from BASF and Panasonic. Watch Bart's presentation here (starts at 05:17).
Following his visit to the big apple, Bart was invited to speak on BNR about his experience. Listen to the program here.
Also, we have completed the editing of the interview at this event, and it is now posted on the Business Call to Action's YouTube account. Watch the interview here.
NOTS builds the first five Adam retorts in Rwanda and launches production of Blue Charcoal. The retorts are owned and run by a local entrepreneur who, in partnership, with NOTS aims to make charcoal production sustainable in Rwanda.
It's official! The Ministry of Environment adopts Blue Charcoal as the model for sustainable charcoal production in Mali. Supported by the minister and a formal committee dedicated to Blue Charcoal, we are ready to roll out.
The president of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, visited the NOTS booth at the “Salon de l’agriculture”. He was enthusiastic to learn about the business and hear how his government can support NOTS on issues like taxes and human resources.
NOTS opens an office in Rwanda and hires a team to set up the solar lamp distribution and sustainable charcoal production businesses.
NOTS holds workshops in Mali and Rwanda where 60 leaders from the charcoal sector, including government officials and producers, give input on the Blue Charcoal business model. NOTS creates, together with the minister of Environment, a high level task force to plan the roll-out of Blue Charcoal in both Mali and Rwanda.
NOTS and Bart Hartman were featured on primetime national TV news in Rwanda after the Blue Charcoal workshop, which was co-organized with the Government of Rwanda.
Based on a survey of the Malian solar lamp sector, the World Bank concludes that NOTS is the number one solar lamp distributor in Mali, in both the number of lamps sold and in professionalism, and one of the top distributors in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The leader of sustainable charcoal production activities for UNDP in Africa recognizes the NOTS Blue Charcoal business model as a front runner in Sub-Saharan Africa for making charcoal production sustainable.
With a new Country Director from Mali experienced in marketing and sales, NOTS significantly increases distribution coverage, adding cooperatives and women’s associations to our wholesaler network. In 2013 we sell 48.000 lamps.
NOTS Mali sells 11.000 solar lamps in 2012, a significant increase over 2011, by adding new wholesalers, small retailers and entrepreneurs to the distribution network.
Solar lamp sales continues during the military coup in Mali. NOTS’ Canadian managing director decides to stay and continues leading our local team.
In partnership with three local charcoal cooperatives, NOTS builds and tests six high-efficiency charcoal production ovens. Pilot results indicate that charcoal can be sustainably produced with these ovens.
NOTS opens an office in Mali and hires a team to set up two businesses: sales and distribution of solar lamps and sustainable charcoal production.
Bart speaks at the Ondernemerscafe 020 (a club for student entrepreneurs) where he motivates students to start businesses abroad and offers up his support.
NOTS conducts a pilot to test the market for solar lamps, selecting Mali as the first country. In one month, 1.700 solar lamps are sold, inspiring NOTS to set up a full-time sales and distribution business.
NOTS closes a co-investment deal with FMO. For each euro NOTS raises with the NOTS Microfinance Bonds, FMO invests 0,40 EUR in the form of a subordinated loan.
After pilot projects with various renewable energies, NOTS learns that one of the main bottlenecks to renewable energy in Africa is financially sustainable distribution. We decide to focus our activities on solar lamp distribution and sustainable charcoal production and distribution.
NOTS invests 1 million euros, via Triple Jump BV, in four microfinance institutions in Latin America and Africa and learns first-hand about the power of entrepreneurship and loans to reduce poverty.
NOTS creates the first of its kind microfinance bond enabling NOTS to raise 1 million euros as an impact enterprise.
Through involvement with Triple Jump BV, NOTS learns that many micro-entrepreneurs do not have access to energy, especially in Africa. NOTS expands into renewable energy and sets up pilot projects for Japropha, biogas, concentrated solar power and solar lamps.
Together with ASN Bank and Oxfam Novib, NOTS co-founds Triple Jump BV, a microfinance investment management firm that today has EUR 300 million under management. NOTS is 25% shareholder.
NOTS develops a line of unique watches to raise money for the scholarship programs in Argentina and other developing countries.
Together with a local NGO, NOTS develops a scholarship program for children from slums in Argentina. The scholarships reduce the high dropout rates as children no longer need to leave school to make money for their family.
After working in the private sector for nearly 20 years, Dutch entrepreneur Bart Hartman founds NOTS with the ambition to make a positive impact on people in developing countries. NOTS stands for Not-One-The-Same, referring to the philosophy that every individual is unique with unique needs. NOTS aims to fulfil these needs.
Bart meets an experienced development expert from Africa who inspires Bart to use his entrepreneurial skills to improve lives of the poor.