Africa is rising. Change is happening. Dreams are being achieved. We met 29 year old Gorata Benkesa from Botswana who is changing the discourse in the technology and business industry. Here is what she has to say.
Tell us about yourself and your project.
My name is Gorata Benkesa Tshomane. I come from Botswana. I am the founder of SoPa Tech business project.
SoPA Tech is a startup working on tackling the issue of climate change caused by carbon emission. We will try reduce carbon emissions by re-inventing a taxi that is powered by solar energy. The niche business we want to penetrate is the Rickshaw taxi business in major cities of Africa.
How does Africa benefit from this project?
Africa has been greatly affected by climate change and yet little progress is made to combat carbon emissions especially in public transport. Therefore I saw this as an opportunity to bring change and sensitize the importance of using clean energy.
What makes your innovation a business idea?
This project is an act of sustainabilty therefore it will benefit the environment most importantly. People in the Rickshaw taxi business will also benefit from this business as the use of solar power energy will be cheaper than using fossil fuels because their prices will not be determined by the petrol prices in the market. It becomes a business as it makes money for all stakeholders; the producers and the taxi operators while still being of benefit to the environment.
How soon do we expect the first batch of the Rickshaws on our streets?
My business project is still in the planning stage and we are working on producing a prototype. I have presented my project to several key people and most recently, I pitched at the African Summit on Entrepreneurship and Innovation Conference and emerged position two in the competitive event.
Which areas do you target to implement the idea in?
This solar powered Rickshaws will be assembled in Botswana but we will be exporting the product to the rest of Africa.
The path of innovation has not been smooth. Can you tell more of the challenges you have come across so far.
The challenges I come across are of lack of capital, I therefore seek for investors willing to invest in my project.
The other challenge is we don’t have an Innovation Hub that supports startups in Botswana, therefore am forced to seek partnership with Hubs outside the country.
What is the growth trajectory of your project? Do you stop at Rickshaws and what are you doing to combat the challenges you face?
I wish to introduce this solar power concept into other modes of transport such as buses and trains. I advocate for policy makers to accomodate the use of this clean energy over fossil fuels. Also for clean energy supporters to partner with SoPa Tech to lobby and teach communities importance using clean energy especially solar energy.
A large number of people, especially the youth are clueless about where to start. What would you tell them?
For the youth who have no idea of what to do in life, I would like to encourage them to take hid of their passions. The things you are passionate about are your purpose, channel them in the right direction.
For the youth who are thinking of starting a business as a career, I encourage them to take that leap of faith and jump. If don’t jump then you will never know you got wings to fly but its not goin to be easy. But you got to JUMP!
Click on the link below to support Gorata’s idea as she lobbies for support to implement this idea. Vote for Green Energy.