Tonye Irims is the founder & CEO of WiSolar, A New Electricity Franchise. WiSolar pilot franchise is generating over $66,000 in turnover per month. They recently registered a patent 2020/08052 for prepaid solar electricity for variable loads.
Entrepreneurship is a bold mindset. No one can “teach” you entrepreneurship. Sure, there are tools, skills, and knowledge to aid you. But generic entrepreneurship is setting your vision and doing whatever it takes to execute on that vision. There will be levels of difficulty contingent upon the leverage you start out with and your environmental constraints.
There will always be naysayers, haters, surprises, and disappointments.
Now, if you have a vision, that is essentially bringing into existence what either does not exist or improving what is in existence for the betterment of humanity.
Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?
I was born in Port Harcourt, Rivers State Nigeria, the first of six sons, and I have three sons myself; Preye Irims, Kalada Irims, and Damina Adeniyi Irims. My interest in alternative energy began in my high school days.
In 2011, I moved to the US from South Africa but soon returned to South Africa after a failed attempt to launch a payment app called FriendsChip. Back in South Africa, I saw the need for solar electricity after experiencing several power cuts with escalating utility bills.
In 2016, I founded WiSolar. However, we experienced a series of challenges that almost closed our doors. The company was able to do only three installations in its first year. After an unsuccessful attempt to sell the business for just a little over ZAR120,000. I tried one more time after receiving a ZAR60,000 seed capital in 2018
That’s awesome Tonye Irims, So where did the idea for WiSolar come from?
WiSolar was founded in November 2016. Wikiglobal spun off into WiMobile for dedicated PTT over cellular devices and WiSolar for renewable electricity.
What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?
Hiring people, talents, studying industry trends
What are the three biggest challenges you have faced growing the business and how did you overcome them?
Talent, unfavorable systemic policies, culture alignment with growth, uncooperative political actors. It’s a work in progress.
According to the IEA World Energy Outlook Report, providing electricity access to all by 2030 will require an annual investment of $52 billion per year equivalent to only 0.2% of global GDP. In 2016 alone over $270 billion was spent on fossil fuel consumption subsidies.
As an entrepreneur, what is it that actually motivates and drives you?
I am motivated and driven by the happiness of the team, and the achievement of organizational goals and personal goals
What is your main tactic when it comes to making more people aware of your brand and engaging your customers? How did your business stand out?
We offer solar financing and prepaid solar to business owners that wish to resell low-cost solar electricity to their tenants.
What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?
Our marketing is online and digital.
What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?
Making strategic adjustments during the global 2020 pandemic.
What piece of advice do you wish someone had given you at the start of your career?
You negotiate what you get. There’s always the presence of prejudice and nothing is equitable.
What excites you most about your industry? Where do you see it heading in the near future?
The future of EV in Africa, IoT and self-driving cars is very exciting. That is where we are headed.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
We are considering a stock exchange listing in the next five years.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I’m currently reading “Homo Deus” by Yuval Noah Harari.
The writer shares his insights about the humanity of tomorrow
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
My dad once said to me “lean freedom is better than fat slavery”. Those words stayed with me.
What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?
It’s a long and difficult build. There is no instant pay-off. Plenty of sacrifices and failures with hope and faith that it will work out in the end.
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