All across Africa, lots of innovative entrepreneurs emerge as people are more enlightened and opportuned to understand and explore Africa’s wealth of opportunities. Though not everyone can be entrepreneurs but few have successfully built themselves to be one by identifying a need with creative solutions within their immediate environment, planning, strategizing and implementing their ideas into reality mostly with little budget. While exploring the works of Africans online, the stories of some distinct African entrepreneurs emerged on some platforms like Forbes; How we made it in Africa and the likes and their impressive innovations however makes them special. Africanpreneurs will however showcase daily one out of the 10 African entrepreneurs selected in no particular order. Join us as we celebrate 30 years old Patrick Ngowi of Helvetic Solar Contractors Group from Tanzania;
The foundation of Patrick Ngowi success started at the age of 15 as a high school student selling Phone vouchers. He learned more about Business from marketing, hiring and profit/loss margins through this mini trade. His mum was a support system during this period as she loaned him Tsh 50,000 (about $50) to buy vouchers for sale. Since she was a lecturer, she encouraged him to focus more on his studies but that did not stop him from his trade as he got fuel station pump attendants in Arusha, his community to sell the vouchers for him. He made little profit from this trade which lasted for the next two years yet it did not stop him from reaching out for more as he identified a need within his community.
This happened when he was about 19 years old trading phones and accessories between Tanzania and Hong Kong, he discovered that a tiny fraction of Tanzanians enjoyed little access to stable and reliable electricity, depended more on generators and decided to rectify that problem. He discovered solar panels and learned about renewable energy at the Denzhou University in China where he studied renewable energy.
Ngowi built capital for his solar company by starting an informal exporting business with a construction industry while at Denzhou. His people would send money to him to purchase materials and other goods for them, which he would and load it in a container and send it down to them at Tanzania.
This led to the evolution of Helvetic Solar Contractors limited; the first company in the Northern Circuit of Tanzania to cater for solar needs from supply to installation and maintenance of solar systems with an initial capital of $1800. For example, photovoltaic panels and water heaters to battery banks, generators and back-up units. The company is also expanding across Africa and has about $8 million revenue. He founded and sits as Group Chairman of Helvetic Solar Contractors (HSC), Life Foundation (L4Lf) and owns a controlling stake in other companies that are part of the Helvetic Group (HG). Life for Life Foundation (L4Lf) is a non- profit initiative of HSC. HG installs consumer solar power systems without charge, targeting mainly rural women along with primary and secondary schools.
Forbes Magazine described Patrick as the continent’s best young entrepreneur, naming him as one of the Forbes 30 under 30 list of Best African Entrepreneurs in 2013 and was then featured on the Forbes list of Ten Young African Millionaires to watch in 2013. He is a member of the East Africa Business Council, CEO’s Round Table of Tanzania, Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF), Tanzania Renewable Energy Association (TAREA) and other local and international organizations as a board director or member.
Patrick was invited to speak on both local and international platforms, including University of Dares salaam Business School, Africa Global Business Forum 2013 in Dubai, where he spoke on Africa’s Young Future by COMESA and Dubai Chamber of Commerce. In September 2013, Ngowi received the Special Achievement Award from the Tanzania Private Sector in collaboration with the Tanzanian Government for his works and the positive social impact via Helvetic Group of Companies.
His hobbies are swimming, reading, running and finding time to share with his loved ones. In his interview with How we made it in africa, he had some words for entrepreneurs and youths in Africa that“Business is a passion. One should find what they love doing, learn as much as they can about it and do business in an open and transparent manner. It is crucial to anticipate vicissitudes but with passion en-grained in business, one will weather it through. Africa’s potential is in its youth. It remains paramount that investment in youth enterprises, that create more jobs, is done. Local and foreign investors should look closely at youth start-up companies and invest early on, as the saying goes: Those closest to the problems have the best solutions.”
Patrick is indeed an inspiration to all Africans as he remains consistent.