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.