Young People’s Multi-purpose Cooperative Society (YPMCS) is based in the eastern part of Zimbabwe. It is a newly formed youth led multi-purpose cooperative undertaking a lucrative solar project as an alternative to hydro-electricity that is not well supplied in all the provinces of Zimbabwe. YPMCS currently has ten (10) members who are all youth.
Many marginalized communities, slums and rural areas in Zimbabwe are the target for this solar project due to the prevailing crisis of hydro-electricity supply in Zimbabwe’s urban and rural areas. Although the government in Zimbabwe is pushing for an extensive and inclusive electrification program, the process is not as fast as Zimbabweans would like it to be, hence the need for a temporary or permanent source of energy. Consequently, the people who reside in these areas depend on unprocessed sources of energy such as firewood that has continuously resulted in land degradation and climate change – exposing the environment to natural calamities like the recent Cyclone Idai.
YPMCS has being working on this solar panel installation initiative as a sustainable source of energy in the eastern part of Zimbabwe. This is one of the best lucrative startup ideas towards working on Sustainable Development Goal number 7 which has been developed to ensure access to smart renewable and environmentally friendly energy sources for all. Therefore, the main purpose of the current project is to ensure that there is access to affordable and smart solar energy in marginalized communities.
With the hiked power tariffs and the intensified power rationing in Zimbabwe, the citizens are embracing solar energy to reduce the pressure on grid electricity which then gives YPMCS an opportunity to venture into this solar project. The government has gone a step further and removed import duties on solar-energy related products.
These are opportunities that will create value for the cooperative members of YPMCS and the general citizenry at large with a focus on youth in Zimbabwe’s urban and rural areas. YPMCS has already started applying the 6th principle of cooperatives (corporation among cooperatives). They are working with the Zimbabwe National Association of Housing Cooperatives - ZINAHCO to collaborate in terms of solar panel installation into the already existing ZINAHCO cooperative housing projects. By providing solar energy for other housing projects, YPMCS envisages growth in their membership base, creating employment for youth from different sectors of the economy and promoting cooperativism generally.
As most of the homes go solely with solar energy, it is evident that solar energy is now gaining tract in Zimbabwe - lighting most of the homes. This is an innovative energy solution that can be replicated to other regions of Zimbabwe and even other countries of Africa with electricity challenges.
Additional Support Needed
For quality project management, customer satisfaction and continuous improvement, YPMCS leadership and members will require mentorship and training in project development, project management and project and grant applications. They will also require training in cooperative development.