Mibawa Suppliers is a social business, providing borehole solutions that include equipment supplies and service, as well as providing off-grid solar solutions for low-income villagers across Kenya. From its head office in Nairobi, Mibawa’s six-year tenure has matured into an unparalleled understanding of the market and its needs, which it facilitates through its network of 80 distributors. These efforts have raised Mibawa onto an international platform, having received recognition and patronage from President Barack Obama.
Under the leadership of CEO Michael Wanyonyi, this hard-fought enterprise continues to bring trailblazing service to some of the most remote regions in East Africa. As Michael explains, “we have improved people’s lives by easier access to ground water and more efficient and cleaner lighting for rural folk.
“We endeavour to provide the best workmanship within the timeframes or deadlines prescribed by our clients. Within this, we have sought to deal with reputable product manufacturers and partners.”
With their innovative solutions being devised through a reliance on constant feedback from their grateful clients, Mibawa Suppliers has achieved a great many feats of construction, all in the interests of enlightening areas of East Africa most in need of it. This has led them into partnership with prestigious organisations, providing invaluable enhancements to their work.
“We partnered with the US African Development Foundation (USADF) and the Global Village Energy Partnership (GVEP) in providing over 5,000 home lighting kits to homes across rural Kenya, thereby bringing a great deal of positive change to the affected clients.”
Such cooperation and assistance from international organisations has proven to be a valuable learning experience for the young company. “We learned that building strong working relationships with such partners involves a lot of hard work, patience and credibility.” Indeed, Michael believes that in the wake of this joint venture, the dramatic impetus for the company will spur them on to establish further relationships, and further expand their mission.
Since then, Mibawa have continued to provide their pioneering services to communities across the country. It is, doubtless to say, a difficult and task to cover an area as vast and challenging as rural Kenya, but this has not deterred Michael.
“We have recently rolled out over 25 borehole solar pumps in Machakos County in Kenya. We introduced solar inverters to power the already existing pumps, which were previously run on less sustainable generators and mains electricity. For community projects, this would be the best solution since it involves a simple one-time cost.
Commenting on the business ethic at the heart of Mibawa, Michael explains concisely, “we attempt to understand the client’s needs so as to customise our solutions to their requirements where possible.” Alongside this flexible attitude to dealing with special cases and unique circumstances, Mibawa unveil their vision for the future in the form of a product package known as the Solarpack 3.
The design of the Mibawa Solarpack itself is revolutionary, for incorporating such compact and flexible design into such an affordable unit. Including a 3-watt solar panel alongside a 4,000mAh battery and two 0.9-watt bulbs, with a total of 12m of cable, it has proven dramatically popular among Kenyan villagers with smaller properties and less space to light up.
The Solarpack’s components are specifically designed for consistent high performance in the Kenyan sun, using the latest technology that solar panels have on hand to extend battery storage and remove potential issues; the environmentally friendly package offers an eco-friendly solution that eliminates the need for paraffin. Michael realises that a one-time investment in a long-lasting product is far more cost-effective than the constant, regular purchasing of paraffin. In rural areas of Kenya, where disposable income is less available, this difference can be expected to make a dramatic impact on not only the general lifestyles of Mibawa’s clients, but also upon their health.
This does not come without its challenges, though. “In the off-grid solar kits, we faced high default rates on the Pay-As-You-Go platform, because the product’s security features were weak.”
However, the mark of a great innovator is the ability to rectify faults and use that experience to end up with a radically better product. This is certainly the case for Mibawa, as this initial challenge “led to a change of strategy in terms of seeking and introducing a better product.”
While their work in supplying renewable energy to over 20,000 off-grid households is a large enough feather for most caps, Mibawa has also become central players in the ongoing effort to provide rural communities with water equipment solutions. Access to clean water remains a huge challenge to rural Kenya, but with interest in clean solar energy on the lips of eager investors across the globe, the prospects of expanding their enterprise look promising for Michael and Mibawa.
Being involved in projects alongside international organisations and government agencies, Mibawa have constructed water treatment plants in addition to conducting hydrological surveys of vast swathes of Kenya. To date, Mibawa have equipped over 100 boreholes with pumping systems, including some that utilise solar power. Extracting water from up to 600 feet (200 meters) below the ground, to be pumped into vast storage tanks, is a fully automated operation that, Michael believes, is destined to transform the way that many rural Kenyans live their lives, from Dadaab to Wajir to Turkana.
With a future plan based around continued sustainable growth injected by increased foreign investment, Michael suspects that increased competition in the market is on the not-too distant horizon. As to the ambitions of his company, Michael states humbly that hitting the USD 1,000,000.00 sales turnover by the end of their financial year would be a major milestone.
Company: Mibawa Suppliers
Phone: 254 772 707 800
Web Address: http://www.mibawa.co.ke/
Address: Siwaka Plaza next to Strathmore University, PO Box 74740-00200, Nairobi, Kenya