We are happy to present RIWIK’s third newsletter to you. Much has happened since the beginning of this year. Summarizing: we are in business in Kenya!
Operations in Kenya started
Early February, Bart Fugers arrived in Kenya, together with Tim van Wageningen (Technical Manager) and Marijn Wouters (student TU Delft). From 22 February until 22 March, Eric de Jong joined them, mainly to support the registration process and for general management support.
The first activities were focused on getting settled, but from the start there was also a focus on starting operations as quickly as possible. This newsletter presents an overview of the results so far.
RIWIK East Africa Limited is formalized
On 12 March 2012 we received the Certificate of Incorporation of our 100% subsidiary RIWIK East Africa Limited from the Registrar of Companies in Nairobi. This is the most important document in Kenya and the basis for other formalities, like work permits and bank accounts.
People had told us all kind of stories about hurdles to get our company registered, but actually it went relatively smooth within a three weeks period. In the meantime we have also opened our bank accounts (in Kenyan Shillings and Euros) at KCB Bank. From now on we can really do business in Kenya.
First RIWIK ‘small wind turbine’ operational
In Naromoru, 180 kilometers North of Nairobi, our first small wind turbine (SWT) is now operational.
This is an existing SWT that needed to get some improvements to make it fit in RIWIK standards. Tim and Marijn guided Dalton, our first producer, to implement all improvements: better quality electronics, perfect balancing, improving the guy wires and of course new paint and a RIWIK logo.
It is a pleasure to hear the soft sound of the rotating blades; no noise, no trembling.
Dalton visited the site with his first potential customers and they were all positive.
Setting up our basis in Nairobi
Our goal was to find an apartment for Bart and Lynn (who joins him on 4 April) that is comfortable, safe, at a good location, and can be our office and training room during the first period at a reasonable price. We succeeded to find this place in Garden Terraces Apartments at Kabarnet Road, off Ngong Road in Nairobi. It is within walking distance from the main shops, has many business contacts within the area and is relatively close to the city center.
We managed to buy all furniture and other essential stuff in less than two days for a very low price by shopping along the roads. At these kinds of locations, furniture costs a fraction of the price compared to the luxurious shopping malls. And it’s very nice and good quality, delivered home the same day.
Organizing the Supply Chain
A key element to RIWIK’s success is the organization of the supply chain. The basic components of the SWT are clear, but now the choice of specific materials, components and suppliers is the next step. We completed the process of component selection, although some choices may be subject of renewed consideration after our initial experience.
More components than we expected need to be imported; even copper wires and steel plates are not produced in Kenya, but those materials are imported by various companies in bulk. Our first orders from China (magnets) were shipped via DHL, but this is too expensive to be a long-term solution. We are getting experience with an import agent and we are investigating various taxes and import duties. Our first vacancy is one for the job of logistic manager.
Second region: Thika
Via a referral we got in contact with a potential second production unit in Thika, 40 kilometers North of Nairobi. After initial contacts, we are very positive. Training will start early May, after our first region is up and running. We plan a third production unit in the Nanyuki region, where we can extend Dalton’s production with his help.
RIWIK receives grant from the Energy and Environment Partnership Program
One of our projects is the approach of the small and medium enterprises (SME’s) in rural Kenya. Many small companies can realize a higher production with the use of electricity from a small wind turbine. Early 2012 we applied for a grant from the Energy and Environment Partnership Program (EEP), an initiative of combined development funds from the UK, Austria and Finland. We are happy to be selected as one of the projects that will be supported. The next step is to provide a specific plan during April, in which we detail the activities. We will implement ten cases with SWT's and all necessary coaching for ten different businesses.
Lynn Vanheule graduated from TU Delft on RIWIK subject
On 27 March, Lynn Vanheule graduated from the Technical University Delft, The Netherlands on the subject of RIWIK and how to grow in the niche market of wind energy in Kenya. She explained that a couple of institutions and a ‘sector network’ are missing to establish a stronger market position for players like RIWIK. An increased market awareness, positive government attention, better quality and service by the suppliers are among the most important elements to be implemented.
We congratulate Lynn with the fantastic result, a grade 9, for her thesis. And we welcome her to RIWIK, because on 4 April, Lynn will arrive in Kenya and contribute to the development of RIWIK. She is also Bart’s girlfriend, so they are both happy with this development. She will start implementing her own recommendations and build the conditions for RIWIK’s long-term success.
February and March were the months to settle in Nairobi, get the formalities done and start the operational processes.
Our priorities for April, May and June are to move to a regular operational process in the Nanyuki region, with a stable sales and production process, including a stable logistic process. During May we will start up our second region in Thika.
We will extend our network with other players and see where we can co-operate, like in the area of joined importing of components.
In the technical area we will have ‘frozen’ and documented the ‘state of the art’ situation of our SWT, including a detailed description production process.
In the area of finance and administration we will have a basic system to plan and monitor our logistic process end-to-end (order-delivery-warehouse-delivery to production unit).