Founding Story – how the idea for JUAMii came about
During our bachelor studies, I got to know Julian and realized quickly that one day I would work together with him on large projects.
In September 2015, we went to Nairobi, Kenya, for a 3-months research project by UNESCO and DAAD on behalf of our university on the topic “Entrepreneurship”.
Within the project “STEP”, which took place in cooperation with the Kenyatta University, we had the chance to work closely together with local entrepreneurs and students from Kenya on compelling business ideas and concepts. This not only helped us to learn more about East African culture, language, and entrepreneurship in Kenya, but also gave us a better understanding of their local issues and concerns. Immediately after our arrival at the JOMO Kenyatta Airport, we were amazed when we were sitting in a coffee shop and noticed that most of the payment transactions in Kenya are done via mobile phones. This aroused our curiosity – and pushed us during our research stay to learn as much as possible about the country, the people, and the economic potential in Kenya.
Our contact with the schools
Through a friend, we were introduced to two female entrepreneurs from Kenya in advance who helped us to build a network within the communities, the schools, and the slum areas. In a relatively short time, we visited many schools and talked to school leaders, teachers and children. What surprised us immediately is that in Kenya, the majority of the population has no access to a stable power supply. Especially for the schools – this is one of the biggest challenges according to the school principal.
(Our first visit to the Tenderfeet School at the end of 2015: The enthusiasm for learning and pure joy of living impressed us.)
We asked ourselves how we can use our resources to add value to these schools. We were greeted warmly by the schools every time we arrived. Most of our time, we spent at the school, talked to children and teachers and learned about the way they are working, the structure of the school and learned about their positive attitude towards life. This positive attitude – despite the difficult living conditions in Nairobi – had a great impact on us, so we decided to develop a concept that brings sustainable benefit to these people in need.
The power of solar energy
Without electricity, the development of schools is difficult. No devices can be operated, lighting is not stable, and the showers do not work properly, because the water pumps are powered by electricity. Instead, they have to use harmful kerosene lamps. The smoke of the lamps burns in the eye and inhaling the smoke is like smoking two boxes of cigarettes. The use of solar energy made sense in order to fix the problem of energy supply shortage in Kenya. The solar irradiance in the whole country is extremely high. In comparison to Germany, even twice as high throughout the year. Our interest in renewable energies started during the early beginnings of our studies, so the understanding of the technology was also given. Based on our great experience in Kenya and the way we have been welcomed and treated by the local people, we decided to found a social organization that can help to improve the lives of people through renewable energy access, and also guarantees the long-term quality of great education for the children. After all, education is one of the most important foundations in developing countries, especially south of the Sahara, to escape poverty and start a bright future.
(Through the alleys of KIBERA – the largest urban slum area in Africa)
(Almost every day we visited new schools to understand the needs of local people)
Back in Germany
After our return to Germany, we realized our promise and founded the organization JUAMii e.V. with the aim of developing self-sufficient concepts for non-state-funded schools in East Africa. It was a logical step for us because the schools have shown great potential during our visits. Since they are not funded by the state and are therefore completely dependent on donations, we set ourselves the goal of developing a concept of self-sufficiency, so that the schools can operate independently in the long-term. The money saved through the solar system can be invested in other urgent areas such as education and agriculture for example. Every day we sat down and analyzed existing concepts, solar systems and the feasibility of our projects. We organized meetings with professors, solar experts, and other leaders that were experienced in implementing projects in Africa. We consolidated the data and came up with a sustainable concept based on renewable energy use for non-state funded schools. Our conversations with the local people in Africa and industry experts in Germany helped us tremendously. There is still a lot to do, but we as a team from Juamii e.V. are more than committed to implement further projects in Africa. children.
Habari, dear Community!
To understand why our team is so excited about the country of Kenya, Africa and its diverse culture – we want to inform you from now on at regular intervals about the country and the continent of Africa.
Our goal is to provide readers and project supporters with interesting articles on these topics. We want to share with you, our community, in short exciting reports the experiences that we have made during our research stay in Kenya as well as in future through our planned solar projects.
Kenya has one of the largest economies in East Africa – and is a key economic and political hub on the continent. Kenya has developed very dynamically and its industry sectors are globally oriented. In the past few years, researchers and leaders from all over the world came to Kenya to witness the rise of an emerging country.
A total of 48 million people live in Kenya, of which 3.1 million live in the capital Nairobi. The two national languages include Kiswahili and English. With a gross domestic product of $ 74.9 billion*, the country has the most powerful economy in the EAC (East African Community), which includes Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Agriculture is one of the most important sectors of the economy – agricultural products such as tea and coffee are among the main exports of Kenya. Despite the fact that agriculture still has a relatively high share of GDP (around 30%), Nairobi has become in recent years an emerging technology hub, which has spawned innovations such as mobile payment technologies covering a wide range of industries in East Africa. Global technology companies from the USA, China and Europe have regarded Kenya since then as a pioneer and figurehead in the field of digital mobile payments. The variety of innovations and foreign investments pushed the development to achieve constant growth rates – above the continental averge 4.6% – of more than 5% since 2010.
We will continue to report in detail on the topics of innovation and entrepreneurship in Kenya in upcoming blogs (e.g as innovative companies M-Pesa and M-Kopa)
Compared to other East African countries, the country is characterized by its relatively stable political system. Kenya is a presidential republic in which the president has extensive executive powers. The new constitution adopted in 2010 strengthened the separation of power between the government and parliament and largely decentralized the state structure. Since 2013, Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta is president.
Growing innovative sectors of the economy, notably in renewable energy or mobile technology sectors in Kenya, as well as reforms such as the government’s “2030 Kenya vision” – make the country a promising future industrialized nation.
Exactly this –
The political stability, the promotion of the private sector and the great potential of solar energy in Kenya made it easy for our organization in the decision-making process to choose Kenya as our main hub for our projects in Africa. *
*2017 according to World Bank **A government-led development strategy that will transform Kenya into an industrialized middle-income country by 2030, guaranteeing all citizens a high quality of life.