Solar startup ARED empowers Rwandans with “business in a box”
Launched in January 2013, ARED is focused primarily on women and disabled individuals, offering a franchise business model that allows these newly-created entrepreneurs to use solar-powered kiosks to charge mobile phones, sell virtual top-ups and offer Wi-Fi services.
ARED shares revenues with the micro-franchisee, with the startup – supported by the likes of Microsoft and the German government – in the process of launching its latest solar kiosk platform.
“The largest gap we have seen is the lack of micro business solutions to curb the unemployment issues that exist on the continent. The franchise model is perfect for the African market because it offers a turnkey solution to anyone to start generating revenue and be in business, for themselves but not by themselves,” chief executive officer Henri Nyakarundi told Disrupt Africa.
The company currently has 25 solar kiosks on the ground in Rwanda, each serving around 30 customers per day. ARED micro-franchisees served approximately 40,000 unique customers in 2016.
“The majority of our customers use the kiosk to charge phones. The average revenue for our micro franchisee is around US$100 net per month. We charge the most phones in refugee camps and in high traffic areas,” Nyakarundi said.