Edgar Sonkho, 33
Electricity is a major problem in Malawi, and gas generators have no backup systems. There’s often power shortages. With TES Investments, Edgar sought to provide the country with cost-efficient backup systems of solar invertors and batteries, providing clean renewable energy at a fraction of the overall costs of the more cumbersome gas generators. Despite having little capital and with few who would back his dream, Edgar approached LAB Enterprises with his outline, who were immediately convinced by his vision and agreed to front him the payments needed for the parts upfront. By coincidence, as Edgar was accompanying a friend to submit her forms to Grow’s offices in Malawi, he was invited to join – “and who would say no?”
With a background in Aerospace Engineering, Enrique worked for many years within the United States Army Aviation Research Center, during which time he obtained his MBA and subsequently moved into the business world as a Sales Executive. He is Vice President of the National Society of Hispanics, a high school maths tutor, a speaker for MBA graduate students, and an Entrepreneur Business Development Consultant. Having long held a desire and a responsibility to use his talents to motivate and help others, Enrique discovered Grow and was paired with Edgar.
Business challenges and objectives of the project
Although Edgar was fortunate to have found a partner willing to invest early on, he still faced an uphill battle to convince people that his solar solutions were effective and cheaper in the long run than their counterparts, despite the hefty initial one-off payment. Edgar needed to split the costs into more manageable installments, offering the individual components separately for buyers to buy and assemble themselves, and inspiring greater confidence in the market.
With Enrique’s cooperation, Edgar’s business went from strength to strength: “[Enrique] understood the exact nature of my business, my personality, and the challenges I had. He was able to give me directions way outside my business realms.” Edgar has worked hard to raise awareness of the potential advantages of renewable energy, and plans to establish TES Investments nationally. Edgar’s new business acumen has helped his startup become more profitable by attracting more sales in the target country.
The Impact on Edgar
“One thing I would say about Grow is that this is an initiative that every entrepreneur should jump into. Like the name itself suggests, this is something that can help you grow personally, intellectually, and in your business circle. I still get in touch on a weekly basis. I’ve recommended Grow to five or six people. Education is expensive, and when I look at Grow offering the same valuable information, I feel I need to talk to every entrepreneur I can get hold of!”
The Impact on Enrique
“It’s a very rewarding experience and just as with any new job or venture, you need to keep an open mind to learning from the entrepreneur, and patience to overcome any obstacles.”