Tecnosol provides renewable and clean energy to homes and farms in Nicaragua through solar, wind and hydro systems.
Focus: Energy, Environment, Rural Development
Geographic Area of Impact: Nicaragua, El Salvador, Panama
Model: Social Business
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 300,000 (1998-2010)
Annual Budget: US$ 5,000,000 (2010)
Percentage Earned Revenue: 100%
Recognition: Regional Social Entrepreneur of the Year, Latin America, 2010
In Nicaragua, over 50% of the rural population has no access to electricity. It is not attractive for large private companies to provide electricity to rural communities, due to their distance from the grid, the dispersion of communities and houses, low population density, low consumption per family (50 kWh/month or less), and reduced payment capacity. These factors translate into high energy costs for rural consumers. Tecnosol offers products and services to provide alternative energy solutions that greatly impact the standard of living of Nicaragua’s citizens.
Innovation and Activities
Since 1998, Tecnosol has worked to improve access to electricity in rural areas of Nicaragua. It offers customers a range of products, including lighting systems, solar-powered refrigeration, water pumping systems, wind and hydro-electric systems, that range in price from US$ 250 to US$ 2,500.
To help customers finance their systems, Tecnosol works with local microfinance institutions. Often these systems lead to increased income generation for customers, i.e. a shop keeper with a refrigeration system can store meat and produce to sell throughout the week, and farmers can increase crop yields using a solar-powered water pumping system. So far Tecnosol has installed +50,000 photovoltaic systems in Nicaragua.
Tecnosol has developed a business model that includes import, storage, distribution, retail and after-sale service, that emphasizes quality and customer service at each stage of the business chain. Excellent quality is essential to facilitate the adoption of unfamiliar technology with an often sceptical customer group. Tecnosol goes to great lengths to reach its customers, even in areas where the only access is on horseback. This commitment is part of Tecnosol’s mission to bring solutions, hope and improved well-being to its clients. Relying on a chain of 15 stores in Nicaragua and offices in El Salvador and Panama, Tecnosol aims to expand strategically throughout the region to better reach and serve customers.
Vladimir Delagneau Barquero’s desire to address rural electricity access began in 1986 when he was 18 years-old. While serving in the army he experienced the challenges of living in an isolated community without electricity, relying only on kerosene and a diesel generator. As the member of his squad responsible for radio communications, he acquired a small solar panel to charge radio batteries. The impact of the technology on his work left a lasting impression. After his army service he returned to school with a new-found commitment to help Nicaragua’s rural poor. He obtained a scholarship to study solar energy in Germany and then returned to Nicaragua and founded Tecnosol. Currently he is the President of ANPPER, the Renewable Energy Association in Nicaragua.
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