Simon Henschel

Organization: 
Sunlabob Renewable Energy Ltd
Year founded: 
2000
Country: 
Laos
Website: 

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Through public-private partnerships, Sunlabob offers renewable energy technologies to off-grid areas, with solar home system installations, solar lanterns, village hybrid grids and solar water purification systems.

Focus: Energy, Enterprise Development, Rural Development, Environment, Technology, Water Geographic Area of Impact: Laos, Uganda, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Tanzania
Model: Hybrid non-profit
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 17,000
Percentage Earned Revenue: 87%
Recognition: Social Entrepreneur of the Year, Asia, 2010

Background For remote villages unconnected to the country’s electricity grid, there is both a high potential demand for electric lighting and a chance for business opportunities in renewable energy technologies. Today in Laos alone, 40% of the households do not have access to electricity. Small industries with growing energy needs are also forming as the state transitions into a nascent market economy.

Innovation and Activities Through public-private partnerships, Sunlabob offers renewable energy technologies to off-grid areas, with solar home system installations, solar lanterns, village hybrid grids and solar water purification systems. To encourage local business development and ownership, Sunlabob trains village technicians to maintain, recharge and rent solar lanterns, thus replacing kerosene lamps and their negative effects. Lighting is made affordable because families are buying a service rather than hardware. They are paying for hours of lighting as they would utilities in a developed economy, rather than buying the lantern and charging station, which otherwise would be cost-prohibitive. Through a resourceful combination of private investment, grant funding and government agency financing, Sunlabob installs solar energy systems that primarily provide electrification and some water purification, particularly in rural areas. Village technicians and committees help service the solar charging stations, which encourages the creation of microenterprises. In providing consultancy and capacity-building services, Sunlabob has been expanding to different countries through franchise agreements.

The Entrepreneur Simon holds a Msc. In Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management from The New School, USA and a Bsc. in International Business Management from Southern New Hampshire University, USA & Bangkok School of Management, Thailand. He is a founding member Lao Institute for Renewable Energy; Social Entrepreneur in Residence at INSEAD; an alumni member of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Executive Education Program “The Art and Science of System Change”; an alumnus of INSEAD, Social Entrepreneurship Programme; Global Institute for Tomorrow, Young Leaders Program; Founding Member Lao Institute for Renewable Energy; Founding Curator, Global Shaper Community, Vientiane Hub; Mentor and Leadership Ambassador, Wedu Global; Advisor to oikos NYC; and a Fundraising & Business Development Fellow at digital human rights organization Access Now.