Supported by the Department of Science and Innovation and the South African National Energy Development Institute, Turtlepreneur is an initiative of SolarTurtle which enables entrepreneurs to use the power of the sun to make a living. According to BabyTurtle Field Manager, Patricia Pindura, 17 informal traders and small business owners are currently being trained as Turtlepreneurs.
Participating informal traders in South Africa are given a solar-powered battery kit that provides electricity wherever they trade. Some of these traders include Gcina Dzingwe from King William’s Town and Ndileka Gleyi from East London. Dzingwe said becoming a Turtlepreneur has enabled him to expand his chips and sweets business. He intends moving his business to nearby Ndevana village, where power outages occur frequently. Gleyi said she will start her own business once she completes her training with BabyTurtle.
SolarTurtle offers a number of different products like the BabyTurtle range, which focuses on informal traders. These kits are smaller, more affordable and come in three different versions-a motor vehicle trailer, a bicycle trailer and a suitcase. The solar-powered battery kit can be used in a number of ways to make money, for instance, as a cellphone charging station where customers pay to charge their phones or an Internet spot where people pay for connectivity or for the printing of documents.
Dzingwe said the Turtlepreneur business training project has equipped him with the skills and equipment he needed to start a business.“The kit I have enables me to charge 20 cellphones, print documents and even provides WiFi hotspots for my customers wherever I am,” he said.
At the launch of BabyTurtle which was hosted in August, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Dr Blade Nzimande said his department wants to assist marginalised communities with power and Internet connectivity.”The ability to use mobile energy supply solutions to improve access to Internet connectivity will assist the country in ensuring that disadvantaged communities are part of the transition towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution” said Nzimande.