In 2008 our original company, Flynn Solar, was established after founders Bernard Hulshof and Arnoud de Vroomen had developed a successful first prototype of the Solar Kit during the course of 2007.
In 2009 the Solar Kit was successfully launched in Southern Africa. During that year Lemnis Lighting, a Dutch company and pioneer in LED lighting, approached Flynn Solar with an offer to buy the solar company.
This resulted in access to working capital, a world class supply chain and placing the solar products under the well-known Pharox Solar brand. The next year, two new products were developed and launched (the Theft-proof Rooflight and the Solar Home System).
When in 2012 Lemnis Lighting merged with NTL Electronics (India) the solar business was bought back by the founders.
The result was a new company: SolarWorks!
SolarWorks! continues to market all existing solar products and is developing a whole range of new solar products. The SolarWorks! development center is based at the incubator of the Technical University in Delft, (the Netherlands, see www.yesdelft.nl) and our commercial head office is in Johannesburg, South Africa.
“For us it’s important to deliver quality products and beautiful design. Affordable products do not need to be ugly; it is just a matter of being very creative during the design and development process.”
“After visiting 30 African countries, it was clear that light was an issue. But human beings like to be connected; we wanted to create a beautiful and durable product that could light up a room and charge any type of mobile. It’s not about a quick fix. It’s about respecting our consumers and delivering products that make them proud.”
THE SOLARWORKS! STORY
The SolarWorks! adventure began when industrial designer Bernard Hulshof and econometric Arnoud de Vroomen, pooled their talents and in 2007 came up with a prototype for the Solar Kit, a solar product design to help people in areas that have little or no access to electricity.
They had both travelled widely before they decided to settle down and do something that would make a difference in people’s lives. Arnoud drove an orange Citroen 2CV (fondly known as a Duck) 60,000 miles through Africa to document innovation and entrepreneurship on the continent and Bernard travelled to Madagascar on a fact-finding mission to invent the ultimate solar alternative to paraffin and candles.
The design breakthrough
From their experience with emerging markets in Africa, Bernard and Arnoud had reached similar conclusions about what these communities needed. To have any impact their products had to be well-made, durable and reliable. It was also important that they should be affordable to the average low-income household. Most significant of all perhaps, they wanted to create a product range that was visually appealing; a factor often overlooked when designing products for this market.
More than just a light
Mobile telephony is ubiquitous throughout Africa. In even the most rural areas people use mobile phones to stay in touch with others, access news and information and transfer money. Adding a device-charging function (with a standard usb port) to our products makes them particularly popular in areas where there is no access to electricity.
And there’s more
To make sure that SolarWorks! can be used when there is not enough sun to charge them, our designers added modifications so that they can be hooked up to a car battery or to mains power.
How we work
To deliver on the criteria mentioned above, access to the latest solar cell and battery technologies is fundamental. All SolarWorks! products are designed and developed in the Netherlands at the Technical University of Delft’s incubator. The head office, research and development, and supply-chain intelligence are all based in the Netherlands to ensure that our products are developed using state-of-the-art technology, true to Dutch design standards. Our commercial head office is located in Johannesburg a base from which we can harvest local knowledge and expertise across southern Africa to inform the creative process and deliver products that suit the needs of our consumers. Because we believe in working with local agents – and in so doing create jobs – we are able to ensure effective after sales support on the ground.
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