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Sunny times ahead for informal traders

Written by Silusapho Nyanda

SolGcina Dzingwe with the BabyTurtle solar panelar power is brightening the lives of informal traders Gcina Dzingwe (20) and Ndileka Gleyi (32).

Turtlepreneur is an initiative of SolarTurtle that enables entrepreneurs to use the power of the sun to make a living. Participating traders are given a solar-powered battery kit that provides electricity wherever they trade. 

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.

The project is supported by the Department of Science and Innovation and the South African National Energy Development Institute.

SolarTurtle offers a number of different products. Its BabyTurtle range is aimed at informal traders. These kits are smaller, more affordable and come in three different versions – a motor vehicle trailer, a bicycle trailer and a suitcase.

Dzingwe says 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 says.

The King William’s Town youngster previously sold chips and sweets but becoming a Turtlepreneur has enabled him to expand his business and attract new customers. He intends moving his business to nearby Ndevana village, where power outages occur frequently. 

Gleyi, who hails from East London, says she will start her own business once she completes her training with BabyTurtle.

BabyTurtle Field Manager Patricia Pindura says 17 informal traders and small business owners are currently being trained as Turtlepreneurs.

Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Dr Blade Nzimande said at the launch of BabyTurtle in August that his department wants to assist marginalised communities with power and Internet connectivity.

He said 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.

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  • Making sure they take their medicine on time.
  • Empowering them to do things on their own.
  • Helping them develop hobbies that will exercise their mind.