13 Mar 2018
Rabat, Morocco
Renewable energy and energy efficiency

Nowadays, it is hardly a luxury to maintain a solid current of electricity. However, in Morocco’s 2018, some households, in the countryside and beyond, still lack in affordable sources of electricity. Youssef Chakroun and Zakaria Rai came to that realization in 2016 and set out to concoct a way that makes energy and lighting attainable everywhere.

Chakroun and Rai are both supply chain engineering students at the ENSET Mohammedia (HASSAN II University) and the founders of SHEMS FOR LIGHTING. The company specializes in manufacturing and marketing solar energy. It mainly targets poor people who don’t have access to electricity and can benefit from LED bulbs or a renewable source of energy.

“We started this company in September 2016, in collaboration with the Enactus Accelerator program. Four months later and with hard work, we had a small amount of success,” Chakroun says. “We created direct jobs, we started manufacturing with a minimal amount of materials, and we reached 90% of customer satisfaction,” he adds.

The 24-year-old entrepreneur’s impact stretched beyond being a business owner. He believes in educating people on the issue and showing them that renewable energy is attainable. “This is our role as well as Morocco’s. The country is a leader in Africa when it comes to the field, coming second to South Africa,” he adds.

SHEMS FOR LIGHTING’s strategy:

Chakroun’s strategy revolves around creating a big network with NGOs where both collaborate on providing people in need with electricity, especially in a sustainable fashion. “We’d love for this to expand and reach all corners of the country,” Chakroun notes.

However, this tight plan does not come without challenges. “Photovoltaic (PV) panels are very expensive to purchase. We hence, reach out to a supplier in China to provide us with PVs,” Chakroun explains. “Other than that, we manufacture items ourselves, like batteries, LED bulbs and lanterns, and even the recycling of a laptop battery to work as a solar lamp.”

This social enterprise does not have one but two production lines. The first is called  QENDIL — a solar lamp which is comprised of a solar panel, an accumulation system, a battery, and a LED. “These lamps are useful and especially good for fishermen using traditional boats,” Chakroun says. “In Morocco, we have a big market that caters for traditional boats and fishermen.”

The second line is LUXE, coupling Moroccan traditions with technology. “With this product, we target people who have access to electricity and would benefit from ecological products,” Chakroun says. He’s also hoping this product will make it to every house and facility in Morocco. “It’s for decoration as much as it is for the environment,” he added.

The prospects SHEMS FOR LIGHTING harbor can extend to leaving a lifelong influence on individuals.

“The impact SHEMS FOR LIGHTING is currently having in Morocco with their two product lines is a great example of how a simple solution can help enlighten the upcoming years,” says Maha Ech-Chefaa, the Country Leader at Enactus Morocco. “When a kid has access to electricity in a remote area, he/she will be encouraged to continue their studies and have access to the job market. Same goes for a fisherman who will be able to extend activity hours thanks to the electricity source he’s now having access to. Besides, [SHEM’s] products are environment-friendly, using upcycled/recycled materials.”

Helping the energy efficiency discourse in Morocco:

Part of Morocco’s energy strategy is reinforcing energy efficiency laws to reach 25-30% energy savings by 2030 for industries as well as households. In fact, The National Agency for the Development of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ADEREE) has already laid out a 122-point study for energy efficiency, with fields of construction, industry, agriculture and transport at its core.

Besides partnering with NGOs, SHEMS FOR LIGHTING works with accelerator programs, such as the Moroccan Center for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship (MCISE). It also participated in national and international sustainable development programs, through which the company landed the best project in Morocco in 2017 for renewable energy. “This is just through participating, but the real achievement is how much we’ve done and the many jobs we’ve created that year,” says Chakroun.

SHEMS FOR LIGHTING’s road is not devoid of stumbling blocks  — Chakroun noted that initiatives like his do not receive a vote of confidence from older generations. “People in the Arab world and Africa approve of the great ideas younger generations come up with, but in reality, they would not give them space to develop,” he says.

And while Chakroun and his team can only do so much, he’s hoping they will soon be part of an inclusive, macroeconomic setup.

 

Follow SHEMS FOR LIGHTING’s updates through their Facebook page.

Photos: Courtesy of SHEMS FOR LIGHTING.

Eman is an editor, and a finance and startup ecosystem journalist.Eman El-Sherbiny
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SHEMS FOR LIGHTING Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency
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