BETA Sarl is a solar company specialized in the assembly and distribution of solar lamps and in the dimensioning, installation and maintenance of autonomous solar systems (SHS and larger systems). It also offers consulting services such as feasibility studies, M&E reports, consulting in rural access to energy and trainings.
As an example, BETA Sarl has together with its partner Little Sun successfully built a strong distribution network for Little Sun solar products, which reaches out to all regions of Burkina Faso.
SC News: Do you remember the first customer your company has served? Who and where was it? What did he/she buy?
KABRE Boureima: My first Solar Home System installation was in the Tentsobetenga province, in a village called Naikin. A community house needed a lighting solution to give literacy classes to the inhabitants every evening. Thanks to the SHS, the population was able to attend these classes after having led their activities during the day and thus improve their writing and reading skills. Children could also come to study at night after their school day.
Another impactful story was when I sold my first Little Sun to an old woman at the market in my town, Koupela. She first bought one lamp to light up her stall and she was directly able to earn an additional revenue as she could work longer. A few days later, she was totally convinced of the quality and decided to buy another Little Sun for her family.
SC News: What would you recommend young entrepreneurs in Asia/Africa in the off-grid solar sectorwhen they start to work: what is the most important skill or talent they need?
KABRE Boureima: An entrepreneur has to have great interpersonal skills in order to build a strong network of clients and partners. You also have to be credible to improve your reputation and respectability among the population. The more the people know about your product or service, the more they are ready to accept your proposals and to make a purchasing decision. One last advice: always be dynamic and proactive not to miss any opportunities!
SC News: When companies grow, the need for good and reliable staff is big. How do you find your staff?
KABRE Boureima: I organised many entrepreneurship trainings for young people in the past, this has turned into a great talent pool to recruit my staff. What is important is to build a trust relationship with your staff, to encourage them to have self-esteem, confidence in their abilities and ambition. It then creates a good team environment. We also attach a lot of importance to technical skills in the solar energy field.
SC News: In your view, what are the main challenges in making renewables an affordable easy-to-access energy resource?
KABRE Boureima: The challenge is to make high quality solar products available on the market and to have a good dissemination strategy. One has to be able to cover the whole country with dynamic sales agents, which is our objective with the network of Little Sun products’ distributors. Customers’ ability to pay is one of the big difficulties; people do not have enough liquidity to pay directly, so we have to provide financial solutions, with progressive payments for instance.
SC News: Is the off-grid market Driven More by Policy or Technology?
KABRE Boureima: Both of them. Technology because the off grid market is free, fast growing and there are much more quality products as before. Policy because there is actually a lack of good policies with too few control and regulation, customers have the choice between more and more high quality products, as I said before, but also too many low quality products, which are not resistant nor durable. That’s why the work of promotion and products certification led by Lighting Global is very important.
SC News: What was a mistake in the past from which you learned a lot for the future development?
KABRE Boureima: One of my mistakes was to train people in sales strategy and solar technology who were not motivated enough or decided to seek other opportunities shortly after. Thic contributes to the socio economic development of the country of course but it’s also a large amount of time and energy that could have been saved. Now I try to have prior written agreements, with distribution contracts and specific rules for all sales agents for instance. It is also important to do an upstream work before setting up a partnership to make it last in the long run. For instance, our partnership with Little Sun is clearly a win-win partnership, we have common interests and aims, BETA Sarl is part of Little Sun story and vice versa.
Facts and figures
Name of the company: Burkina Energie et Technologies Appropriées (BETA) Sarl
Founded: BETA was created in 2005 and BETA Sarl (“LLC” in Burkina Faso) in 2011
Headquarters based in: Koupela, Burkina Faso
Business activity: Lanterns/Pico SHS (Plug&Play)” –> Little Sun distributor in BF, “Installed SHS with application”, “Wholesaler”
Countries/regions of activity: Burkina Faso. BETA Sarl operates in 13 of 13 regions and 37 of 45 provinces of Burkina Faso.
Number of staff worldwide:
- 5 permanent staff
- 11 temporary staff
- 50+ local sales people
Email contact: email@example.com
Any other interesting Fact/Figures?
Among other achievements, BETA Sarl
- assembled and sold around 3.000 Soltys solar lamps de 2009 à 2012
- distributed around 13.000 Little Sun solar lamps since December 2014
- recruited and trained close to 100 sales agents for Little Sun solar products
- installed more than 1.000 solar home systems on behalf of the EU-funded project Micrésol access to solar energy through micro-finance) from 2011 to 2015.