July 2019 2nd Edition

Solar charger inventor has big plans

Written by Galoome Shopane

Young inventor Tumelo Photolo is set to take charge of his financial independence, thanks to the Free State Department of Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (Destea).

The young man from Qwa Qwa has developed a solar cellphone charger – with the battery neatly tucked into a cellphone cover.Tumelo Photolo with his first invention.

The small battery is solar powered, which means it converts energy from sunlight into electricity. When the sun sets, it uses energy it has stored to charge the phone.

Photolo (24) won R100 000 in the Destea Tabalaza Pitching Session in 2018 and used the money to fund the development of his product.

The Tabalaza Pitching Session is an incentive scheme that promotes and encourages entrepreneurship among young people by identifying business ideas and products that can be supported by potential investors and stakeholders.

His invention was inspired by a class discussion when he was in Grade 11 on how solar energy can change lives in South Africa.

Photolo is of the St Engenas Zion Christian Church faith and explained that when he went to the church’s annual gathering in Moria, he and many congregants struggled to find places to charge their phones.

“I saw a business opportunity and developed my solar charging bag, which I believe will have a big market in Africa.”

He said the bag is fashionable despite its practical purpose.

According to Photolo, he started the journey that ultimately led to his invention back in middle school when he would fix electrical appliances for money.

“I don’t give up because I believe that every problem has a solution, all we need to do is stretch our minds,” he said.

“I’m an entrepreneur by nature; I feel excited when we talk about business, although it’s not an easy thing for those who want an overnight success. Business requires someone who is innovative and who is always looking for ways to develop and improve the idea and business,” he said.

Photolo’s product is currently at the Product Development Technology Station at the Central University of Technology in the Free State to get it market ready.

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