Using solar energy to power the world’s poor. Hemant Chanrai uses his portable solar devices to bring light to those in need in Indonesia.
What’s your story?
There are too many Indonesian living without access to energy, hindering their social progress. Families are left in the dark after nightfall and there is very little sense of safety in rural communities. Worst of all, children are unable to read, write and study after dark. Many of them resort to harmful petrol lamps.
We want to help the rural communities currently left in the dark by providing them with affordable, plug-and-play solar power lighting systems. We work by partnering with approximately a dozen agents working at reselling our system throughout the country. We also work with large corporation’s CSR divisions to create CSR programs aimed at supplying our systems to remote areas.
What excites you most about your industry?
What excites me the most is how we are using solar power technology to help the world’s poor. It’s exciting to see technology, which is usually seen on the rooftops of the rich, being used at the grass roots level. By providing solar energy to the world’s poorest, we are developing from the ground up. Solar power lighting has enabled classrooms to stay open for longer, it is rapidly eradicating the need for harmful petrol and kerosene lamps as well as promoting a sense of safety in the rural areas of the world. As the price of solar drops and government incentives increase, even more rural communities will finally have access to power.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I am an Indian citizen, but have lived in Indonesia most of my life, 18 years. I relate to Indonesia better than India and by developing Azzura Solar, I am giving back to a country which I call home.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore, without a doubt. Why? Because things work very efficiently in Singapore. Plus they really promote the entrepreneurial spirit, from government funds allocated for startups, to being able to set up a company within one hour costing as little as SGD1. Making it easy to do business and eradicating the bureaucracy allows young business owners to build and grow without the headache.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
No matter what you do, people will love you for it, and people will hate you for it, so you might as well do what you want.
Who inspires you?
This might sound odd but Dennis Rodman inspires me. He inspires me today because of what he was like when I used to watch him on the court back in the 90’s. His crazy hair, tattooed arms and pierced face showed me that you don’t have to conform to anything. Rodman was eccentric, but a breath of fresh air on the NBA courts. Be your own person and do what makes you feel good inside. I actually once bleached my hair, to the horror of my parents.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Donald Trump has a really good chance of becoming the next US president.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have probably worked longer to save up before starting Azzura Solar. I really jumped the gun without securing enough funds.
How do you unwind?
A double whiskey, whilst watching Modern Family with my wife.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
BALI! First of all because it’s a domestic flight and I don’t need a visa because having an Indian passport makes international travel annoying. Second, you can have a really great time on a pretty tight budget. And finally, since I live in Jakarta, Bali is like a home away from home. I can still chat with the locals in Bahasa, Indonesian. I feel worlds away from my office life, but still feel like I’m home.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
Shameless plug for your business:
Azzura Solar is the leading portable solar power distributor in Indonesia. Combining affordable technology, quality design, designed for the South East Asian market.
This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:
Callum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries. He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence. A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.
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