Vision & TeamRenewable Development Across Africa To help people help themselves. This is an extremely important aspect of our SolarTurtle venture. Our aim is not-for-profit but to create a business that gets people to realise that if they want to change the world, they should do it themselves – This will allow them to take care of themselves as well as their communities. This will result in a brighter future for all by alleviating poverty and creating a greener future. It comes down to a choice. Either you believe that anything is possible, that the state of the world can change for the better, or you resign yourself to the fact that there’s nothing you can do about it. Arthur C Clark wrote that “When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.” The same principle applies to life. If you believe that you can’t make a difference, then you won’t. It takes visionaries to point out that anything is possible. As long as you believe that there is a way, you will never stop looking for it.
ObjectivesPromote women-empowerment. SolarTurtle aims at giving women the opportunity to run green enterprises, as they are the primary caregivers of the community. By empowering women to run businesses, we are allowing them to add value to their communities, to be inspiring role models and to take care of our future generations. Promote youth-empowerment. SolarTurtle aims at providing youth with the opportunity to run green enterprises. By empowering youth to run businesses, we are equipping them with the tools and experience to become aspiring social green entrepreneurs, thus allowing them to create their own inspiring greener futures without being held down by past limitations. Promote green economy. By starting micro-utility enterprises in rural and informal settlements, a tangible difference can be made for those who have limited access to electricity. By exploiting the versatility of renewable energy and a simple business model, these micro-utility businesses can be started across Sub-Saharan Africa. SolarTurtle offers less privileged communities the products and tools required to launch their own small mobile power station businesses, thereby giving them the power to empower themselves and create a greener future for us all.
- Stellenbosch Idea Competition winner, 2013
- WWF Climate Solver accolade, 2014
- Better Living Challenge runner-up, 2014
- 110% Green Flagship listing, 2014
- Cleantech open competition semi-finalist, 2015
- Siemens, empowering people award winner, 2016
- SEED Award for Entrepreneurship in Sustainable Development winner, 2016
- AfriSam Sustainable architecture finalist, 2016
- Africa Prize, Royal Academy of Engineering shortlisted, 2017
- Katerva award finalist, 2017
- Africa Utility Week, Most Innovative Technology of the Year winner, 2017
- SA Innovation Summit, Inventors Garage Award winner, 2017
- SAB Social Innovation Award, Grant winner, 2017
- Accenture Innovation Awards, finalist, 2017
- Design foundation, Design With Purpose Award, winner, 2017
- Chivas the Venture award, finalist, 2018
- Santam, Safety Ideas award, finalist, 2018
- Mergon Group, Nation Builder Award, winner, 2018
NDip (Marketing and Communications) – Chief Executive Officer, Public Relations and Marketing
Lungelwa studied marketing and communication and has made her mark on the corporate world. For 6 years she was a Vice President at Ericsson Telecom and was responsible for expanding Ericsson into the Sub-Saharan market. However, she became disillusioned with corporate life and wanted to make an impact on the world.
In 2007 she returned to her home in a rural village with the dream of making it on her own terms. Since then she has pursued numerous ventures but it was the renewable energy sector that really captured her attention.
Lungelwa has always had a passion for making a difference in people’s lives. She led various reading and study groups at her local school and assisted many aspiring youngsters to go to university. It was no surprise that when the SolarTurtle business opportunity presented itself, she jumped at the opportunity.
Her rural solar kiosk business has successfully been in operation since June 2015 and has created employment opportunities for 6 youth from the community.
James Van der Walt
MEng. (Renewable Energy) BSc (Hons). Bsc, Founder and Chief Technical Officer
James is a social entrepreneur and engineer. In 2011 he quit his job as a software engineer striving to do something more meaningful with his life. He soon realized that if you want to change the world, you should start with the places that need it most.
In 2012 he moved back home to South Africa and founded Ugesi Gold, a social business with the vision of giving the power of tomorrow to those who are powerless today. He took the basic premise of the business to Stellenbosch University to research the idea thoroughly. In 2013 he completed his master’s degree in mechanical engineering specializing in renewable energy. The product of his thesis was the SolarTurtle.
James is passionate about making a sustainable impact on the world and firmly believes that the SolarTurtle might just make that happen.
NDip (Information Technology) – Co-founder and Chief Operations Officer
Charlene is a natural business strategist and has a keen eye for detail. She is a co-founder of SolarTurtle and her valuable inputs help push the company forward.
She has worked on large design projects and has in excess of 10 years’ experience in project management, customer service and design.
She is also the software SCRUM master, software developerand COO for the BabyTurtle project.
NDip (Engineering Studies) – Project Manager
Candice is a seasoned project manager and has spent 10 years working at a Big 4 accounting firm, within their Advisory division, before joining the SolarTurtle team. She has extensive experience in operations, bid management and ISO standards.
Candice currently spearheads the BabyTurtle Project in East London and her tenacity, coupled with her can-do attitude is the driving force behind the team and the ultimate success of the project.