Fenix Benin (ENGIE): bringing electricity to rural Africa
Multinational French electrical utility company - ENGIE - ends 2019 with a staggering 40,000 households in Africa connected to solar power in one year!
Under its subsidiary Fenix Benin, ENGIE has surpassed its previous rapid growth rate, by connecting 40,000 households to solar power in Benin in one year, representing 200,000 people.
What does this mean for the region?
To date only 34% of Beninois have access to electricity, with rural areas having a shocking 16% electrification rate. Fenix Benin’s solar home system and distribution network will help to increase this rate by giving distributed rural households access to electricity.
“In 2019, it’s unconscionable that 600 million people across Africa still lack access to electricity. I’m thrilled that we’re making a difference in the lives of 40,000 Beninois households and 200,000 people, providing access not only to clean solar power, but also to financial empowerment. It’s a testament to the strength of our team in Benin that we were able to grow so rapidly, and I look forward to seeing their accomplishments going forward,” comments Brian Warshawsky, CEO of Fenix International.
Fenix Benin’s also strives to provide affordable products for low income families by providing the opportunity to pay for its 10 to 50W system over time via mobile payments.
“Reaching 40,000 households in just a year is a huge milestone for our team to accomplish, but it is only the beginning for Fenix Benin. Our 140 employees are just getting started in our goal to bring clean light and power to all those without electricity across Benin,” comments Philippe Robert, Managing Director of Fenix Benin. “Our systems allow customers to access an on-grid experience with TVs, radios, additional accessories, and financial and product upgrades. We will continue to work tirelessly to illuminate the next 40,000 homes, then the next 100,000, until everyone across Benin has a clean, well-lit home free from the dangers of polluting fossil fuels.”
For more information on business topics in the Middle East and Africa, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief MEA.
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.