Michael Mynhardt on providing light for the underprivileged

Sosa Investments is a renewable energy company that is striving to change lives by donating 50 000 solar-powered lanterns to underprivileged learners

Co-founded by Zukile Dube (22), Michael Mynhardt (22) and Nikolai Mynhardt (30), Sosa Investments specialises in solar energy and aims to empower people by supplying alternative solutions to everyday problems.

Each year, some 3,3 million people die from air pollution worldwide. It’s more fatal than HIV/Aids and malaria combined. Now these young, ambitious innovators are working together to create a country that does not rely on fossil fuels, as well as reduce the impact of indoor air pollution, restricted access to electricity and constrained financial freedom in poorer communities.

“Africa is one of the largest demographics affected by the lack of clean light,” says Mynhardt. “The current methods used, such as kerosene and candles, are not just outdated and expensive, but pose a huge risk for a catalyst of problems relating to health and environmental impact. The problem is urgent and we have a plausible solution.”

Lighting up lives

The business partners believe their product, The SolarPuff, is the answer to these problems. It is a lightweight, recyclable solar lantern and it provides 12 hours of clean light, which comes from eight hours of charge from the sun.
Getting the business off the ground, however, didn’t come without its challenges.

“Africa doesn’t have a conducive entrepreneurial environment, which meant that initial capital raising and establishing business relationships was difficult,” says Mynhardt.

Earlier this year, the business partners launched its Project Light campaign, which aims to donate 50 000 solar-powered lanterns to underprivileged Grade 3 learners to replace kerosene lamps. They are also striving to create awareness around the importance of clean light and the effects of indoor air pollution. They have reached 50% of their funding target and are on track to achieve their goals.

The co-founders plan to start retailing their product in Angola and Namibia next month and they are determined to establish a manufacturing assembly plant in South Africa to create jobs and change the lives of more people across the continent.

What advice do they have for aspiring entrepreneurs? “When things get tough, stick it out, and if you can’t do it, find someone who can. We believe that anything can be overcome with teamwork, innovation and an open mind!”