[This is the #2 in a 4-episode series highlighting leaders in Solar Distributed Generation in Latin America and the Caribbean, brought to you in collaboration with Solarplaza as part of their upcoming Unlocking Solar Capital LATAM conference]
More than 30 million people throughout Latin America still don't enjoy the luxury many of us consider commonplace. That a single electric light can push back the darkness of evening for several hours more, allowing 7 yr old Yolanda to finish her homework after a long afternoon of family chores, is still a modern miracle she won't soon take for granted. You don't have to squint to see her now, in the 3200K glow of an LED bulb…not the way she's squinted all her life to see her kitchen table top for years by the light of a kerosene lantern. The stifled cough of her little brother is the last remnant of that relic of a century past, only recently discarded in several homes in this remote mountain village. Or, perhaps it's easier to imagine Rafael, closing his store in the center of a sleepy town at the end of another busy day, the only member of the community who can offer charging services for countless cell phones, and the only place to catch the World Cup qualifier, as he's also the only one with a Television. He's still the only one with electricity at all, at least, until he can sell more of his neighbors on the low monthly costs to harness the same power he does, the Sun on their own rooftops!
Juan Fermin Rodriguez, today's guest on SunCast, is all-too-familiar with the stories of Yolanda, Rafael and 40,000 others in remote villages throughout Latin America. They are his customers, and his company, Kingo Energy, is leading the revolution to light up the last remote, underserved villages stretching across Latin America and the Caribbean utilizing micro solar energy kits. I was very curious about how these companies have been able to penetrate this untapped market, what the tech is like, how they can afford the operating costs to deliver their products, and more, so I asked Juan to join me on SunCast so we could learn more.
In today's episode, Juan and I go into great detail on:
- The size of the Latam offgrid market
- The strategy behind starting an off-grid solar company focused on Latam instead of Africa and Asia
- The difference in technology's role in Latam versus other markets
- How Kingo has become one of the best-capitalized solar startups in Latin America
- And a detailed discussion of both their fundraising and go-to-market strategy
- And much more.
I'll be honest; it was NOT what I expected. I would say that I enjoyed this conversation as much as any I've done, and I believe it's one of the most valuable we've brought to you yet. If you've known me awhile, you know that offgrid and remote communities is one of the areas of solar that I'm most excited about, yet this is the first guest of a offgrid of microgrid company I've had. So, needless to say, I'm excited, and I hope you get as much out of it as I have.
This is one of those episodes that I really feel could have continued for another hour. There are so many questions left unanswered, still stones left unturned. I'm curious to better understand how Juan deals with cultural differences as he expands beyond his home country, as he readily admitted having never really lived outside of Guatemala. Thankfully, I'll get a chance to sit down with him in person in Miami in June, and I know I can follow up with him then! And so can you!. Join us at the Solarplaza Unlocking Solar Capital LATAM event June 15/16 in Miami, FL.
Solarplaza organizes some of the finest conferences and trade missions on solar energy in emerging markets that I've attended. I'll be joining the Solarplaza team, Juan and many other key leaders in the Latin America Market at this event, and hope to meet you there too.
And just for being a SunCast listener, you get a 10% discount by using the code "SUNCAST" when you begin registration!
SunCast is also brought to you by Solrates. SolRates helps solar installers provide instant online financing quotes for commercial and industrial customers with projects $100K value and up. If you'd like an invitation code to join the platform, please reach out to me directly. Solrates is currently only offered for US-based projects.
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Resources from today's Show:
El Libro del hombre - Osho
Demian - Herman Hesse
The Inevitable - Kevin Kelly
And, what I'm reading this week:
Unshakeable - Tony Robbins
About the Host of SunCast:
Nico Johnson is the creator and host of SunCast, a regular conversation with Solar Industry professionals who are leading in emerging solar markets. The content of the show is geared towards listeners looking for insights on where the markets are headed, how to position themselves or their companies, and what today's market leaders do to stay ahead of the pack.
Nico is a 10-year veteran of the solar industry, having led development in the US and Latin America for global companies like Trina Solar and Conergy. He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala and is considered one of the market's leading experts on solar PV expansion in the region.
Nico can be reached on Linked In https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickalus
or by email email@example.com