#DisruptersDen – GURARIDE and S.U.L E-Mobility: Sustainability in mobility

#DisruptersDen – GURARIDE (guraride.com), S.U.L E-Mobility banner

Some of the AltGen team got to attend the Kigali Sustainable Energy for All Forum this past May. While there, we got to engage with some amazing, innovative tech start-up pioneers and entrepreneurs making waves on the fronts on renewable energy and sustainable business, one that stood out, in particular, being a new market disruptor on the fronts of e-vehicles and e-mobility.

It took emptying their personal savings and moving to Rwanda for Tony Adesina and business partner Agenor J. Jean-Louis to get GURARIDE up and running, but four years later they have reaped what they sowed. GURARIDE, and its sister company S.U.L E-Mobility, are the leaders in electric and micro-mobility in Africa. 

Introducing GURARIDE (guraride.com); a public bike-share transport company committed to the sustainability of micro-mobility in Africa starting with Rwanda. The company’s main aim is to facilitate the transition from fossil fuel based mobility to other non-pollutant transport alternatives. Initially, GURARIDE launched a pilot bike-share system in Kigali with 30 dockets and 100 smart bikes. Based on a successful launch campaign, the company is now deploying over 300 geared bikes, 100 electric bikes, 50 kick scooters, and almost 15 mopeds spread across Musanze, Rubayu, and Huye with the aim of providing a nationwide non-motorized transport scheme. Having recently launched another pilot for Cairo University in Egypt, the start-up’s goal is to spread micro-mobility across cities in Africa.

 

Electric vehicles and NMTs are important for sustainable development, which is why AltGen was thrilled to be able to sit down and find out more about what inspired them and how this venture was established.

 

The two Americans credit their success to their passion for Africa and their hands-on experience and approaches to providing their best results. 

Figure 1: A GURARIDE 20 bicycle docking station located in Kigali's Central Business District at Marriot Hotel

“My passion and love for the continent of Africa drove me to explore the potentials and endless opportunities in the clean energy/EV sector starting with Rwanda, a country known for its favorable policies on electric mobility.” Tony B. Adesina, C.E.O, GURARIDE, S.U.L E-Mobility

 

The company has R&D departments in multiple countries overseas but claims to do its best research in Rwanda. They have been through five models of bikes. ‘If you can get a product to work in Rwanda,’ says Adesina, ‘you can get it to work anywhere.’ The designs, solid in theory, are sent to Rwanda for assembly and testing. The bike must be robust enough to weather the Rwandan climate and hilly landscape. GURARIDE bike-share system operates in a way that allows commuters to access bicycles across various docking stations strategically deployed throughout the city. The model works in a way that users are able to locate a nearby docking station, scan off a bike, ride to a given destination, and park conveniently.

Figure 2: GURARIDE docking station layout in Central Business Centre, Nyarugenge District—Kigali City
Figure 3: GURARIDE docking station layout in Remera, Gasabo District-- Kigali City.

In partnership with the City of Kigali, GURARIDE is starting its operations in two Kigali city corridors and will gradually expand to all city corners as cycling infrastructure/road safety measures are put in place by authorities. GURARIDE has set up partnerships with different government institution and relevant agencies such as the ministry of infrastructure, ministry of environment, the city of Kigali, and different districts’ offices in the country to allow the expansion and scale of its operations.

 

On the other hand, GURARIDE operates in tandem with its sister company S.U.L E-Mobility legally registered as SAFI Universal Link Ltd in Rwanda. S.U.L E-Mobility is an electric mobility solutions provider offering a complete value chain for green transport and logistics solutions in Africa starting with Rwanda. It’s value chain ranges from manufacturing of electric vehicles, assembling, maintenance & repairs, leasing management software, on-demand ride hailing, e-commerce & last mile logistics, capacity building, and electric vehicle charging infrastructure. With 5 years expertise and proven systems across the continent, the company built on its series of success stories in the e-mobility industry to spur the electric mobility uptake in some of Africa’s key markets like Rwanda, DRC, and Ethiopia.

Under S.U.L E-Mobility, subsidiary companies have been established with the aim of providing a more robust green electric mobility business model

Under S.U.L E-Mobility, subsidiary companies have been established with the aim of providing a more robust green electric mobility business model that caters to the entire transport and logistics ecosystem.  The companies include:

 

SAFIRIDE founded 2018, is an on-demand e-mobility ride-hailing company committed to the sustainability of the environment through the use of electric motorcycle. It uses cutting-edge technology to provide on-demand ride request services, products for mobile app solutions, cashless easy to use payment systems, transport services for Corporate Businesses and Organizations.

 

MISSION – To disrupt the transportation sector by innovating and re-inventing mobility in Africa alongside providing a sense of belonging, comfort, and safety to all consumers while enjoying their ride.

SAFIRUN Logistics Ltd founded in 2018 is an all-in-one Eco-Friendly product delivery & logistics technology company that connects people with the best local merchants/stores in their cities via convenient delivery, pick & drop, and catering. 

 

The company offers cost effective logistic solutions to local businesses, government and non-government organizations, and home delivery companies all over Kigali. The start-up’s approach allows it to assume our partners’ logistic operation workload by reassigning all fleet management responsibilities to its staff while generating new revenue streams for their partners’ businesses.

 

MISSION – To make life easier for consumers with lightning-fast eco-friendly delivery while protecting the environment by cutting down carbon-emissions.

 

Figure 6: SAFIRUN Logistics' delivery staff and fleet posing for a group picture and ready to kick-off another. SAFIRUN (safirun.co) is the eco-friendly logistics and last-mile delivery company and a subsidiary of S.U.L E-Mobility.
Figure 7: SAFIRIDE fleet (an e-mobility on-demand ride-hailing service and a subsidiary of S.U.L E-Mobility) , charging at EVP (evpcharger.com) EV charging station located at Total Energies in Kigali.

EVPLUGIN is one of the leading EV charging station network in Africa, with focus on aiding the transition to electric mobility while creating worldwide awareness on the importance of e-mobility to our environment and providing the best charging experience to all its users.

 

MISSION – To lead the evolution of e-mobility by promoting green transport, zero carbon emission vehicles, and by providing a reliable charging network across Africa.

The aforementioned innovations are not their only home-grown solutions. The organization has internal IT, accounts, HR, customer service, design, media, operations, repairs and maintenance and training departments, all consisting of individuals who have been recruited and trained locally in Rwanda and elsewhere on the continent, including the SAFIRIDE riders knowns as ‘Captains’ or SAFIRUN delivery staff known as ‘runners’. The organization’s founders see it as illogical to hire internationals permanently instead of giving the residents of Rwanda and Africans in general the opportunity to be trained, and thus empowering the local economy while creating a feasible business structure. Their approach to recruitment is not founded on resumes or first impressions, but on the employee’s response to the company culture. Tony Adesina, the C.E.O himself, is a Pennsylvania State University Engineering Alumni who decided to turn a blind eye on white collar jobs in pursuit of becoming a serial entrepreneur, founder, investor, innovator and philanthropist. Today, he is the founder of GURARIDE, SAFIRIDE, SAFIRUN, EVPLUGIN, and SUL MOBILITY, companies all operating in the green transport/e-mobility sector. Tony Adesina and his fellow cofounders believe anyone can be trained and enabled to the extent of unlocking unprecedented life-changing opportunities.

 

GURARIDE and S.U.L E-Mobility organizations is founded on an impact driven set of innovations that  reflect the company’s community-centric business model and youth empowerment initiatives. One issue they’ve dedicated themselves to tackling is sexual inequality, which is particularly present in male-dominated spaces such as the transport and logistics industry in Rwanda and Africa. In their efforts to upskill the labour pool, they have trained 300 women and 2150 youth to work in their assembly line. Their goal is not only to employ these skilled workers, but to equip them with the tools to begin their own businesses and ventures, and to essentially create a skilful and financially independent community. As of June 2022, S.U.L E-Mobility launched the ‘Women Empowerment in Entrepreneurship’ (W.E.I.E) initiative under its E-Mobility Academy with the purpose of training 120 women in Kigali and further equipping them with electric motorcycles, work kits, and electronic gadgets. The initiative is set to generate a daily revenue of 12 to 15 US Dollars per day to each beneficiary that has successfully graduated from the initiative’s training program. November 2022, predicting an increase to around 400 trainees, the organization’s commitment and dedication to sustainability also goes one step further than its innovations and solutions in the electric mobility space. In an effort to ensure an authentic transition from ICE motorcycles to electric motorbikes, S.U.L E-Mobility has partnered with ENVIROSERVE which a local authorized recycling and E-waste management company. The partnership is set to trigger the recycling and repurposing of electric motorcycle batteries that have reached their end of life while retrieving ICE motorcycles engine parts such as exhaust pipes from operators in order to scrap them.

 

The organization’s founders came up with strategic approaches to generate funding for these large-scale programmes. Such approaches including, but not limited to, GURARIDE sponsored bike-share programs that allows businesses and big corporate brands to place their adverts on bicycles, partnerships with financing institutions to offer leasing system to operators interested in acquiring EVs, and fund sourcing from international sponsors and donors who take heart in spurring change in this world through the organization’s different initiatives. S.U.L E-Mobility and GURARIDE own the entire system, allowing total control over the brand. All on-ground solutions and assets are a long-term investment; the founders are not in the business for quick money. Instead, they view their innovations as ‘social solutions’ with the purpose of uplifting the community. Their advice to cleantech entrepreneurs is commitment to the ideas, when you have a truly feasible and unique idea it’s worth investing in. Don’t worry about the money at first; it will come. First you must solidify your idea and be committed, and if you don’t believe in what you’re selling, don’t sell it. Look at everything as a lesson to do better next time.

 

These insights are so valuable in the entrepreneurial and tech start-up space. AltGen has the privilege of engaging with and learning from some seriously innovative individuals and companies in the renewable energy and sustainability sector, and truly believe that the lessons from Tony Adesina and Jean-Louis on backing your ideas, taking the risk and investing in your venture, and strive for socio-economic betterment through your business, then you are on the right path!

 

We hope you have found our second instalment of #disruptorsden insightful and inspiring. Are you or anyone you know doing amazing things and making waves in their field to totally change certain economic and social paths? We really want to know more, so send us an email at careers@altgen.com or click here to fill out this form telling us more!

 

What to Remember When You don’t Hear Back on a Job Application.

You found a great job online, you’ve put together the perfect application and clicked send, and now the wait begins. Waiting to hear back from a company after applying for a job can seem like a daunting process, but it doesn’t need to be. Our best recommendation would be to work with a recruiter from AltGen as our team provides you with feedback every step of the way, preventing you from feeling like you’re left in the dark. However, if that’s not the route you want to go, here are some points to keep in mind:
  • The company’s turnaround time: The average time it takes to hear back after applying is between 1 to 2 weeks or 10 – 14 days. If you apply for a job advertised by AltGen, we will send you an email acknowledging your application has been received, and if after ten days you haven’t heard from us, unfortunately, your application is unsuccessful. Every company will differ, and sometimes the urgency or volume of applications will influence the time it takes to hear back from a job application.
  • Review the job description or posting: If you are unsure of how long you can expect to wait before hearing back, relook at the job advert as it may include information on how long you can expect to wait. If you’re planning to follow up with the company, don’t reach out to them before the stated time is over.
  • Continue your job search: While you are waiting to hear back on your application, continue exploring the other vacancies. This will increase your chances of finding the job you’re perfect for and help alleviate any nerves as you’re not putting all your hope into one position.
  • Job requirements: Make sure that you only apply for roles where you meet most, if not all, of the requirements. Recruiters and employers won’t consider your application if the non-negotiables aren’t met. Save yourself and the recruiter time by only applying for the best-suited jobs, this will also increase your chance of hearing back about your application.
  • There is not enough time: We understand that you want to find out if your application is being taken further in the recruitment process, but it’s important to keep in mind that recruiters and company’s don’t always have the time to respond to every single application. It doesn’t mean that your application hasn’t been seen, it just means that after going through every application, the recruiter isn’t always able to reply to each one individually. A survey carried out by com found that a job advert will receive 118 applications on average!
  • Know when to look for other opportunities: If you’ve followed up with the company and the specified waiting period is over, but you still have not heard back, it’s time to consider moving on to other potential roles. As difficult as it is, you shouldn’t feel disheartened. There are plenty of vacancies on offer, and the right one will come along.
It is important to know when it’s time to move on. If you’ve followed up with the company and the specified waiting period is over, but you still have not heard back, it’s time to consider your application unsuccessful. Remember not to feel discouraged if you don’t hear back. Finding the right job isn’t always easy, and sometimes you need a bit of help and guidance. Make sure to follow us on LinkedIn to keep up to date with our latest job offers and helpful blog posts. If you are a professional in the renewable energy space, we would love you to add your CV to our database for our consultants to refer to when a suitable position becomes available. Click here to upload your CV.

How to Retain Staff When Your Top Talent is Leaving.

It can come as a shock when one of your top performer’s hands in their resignation out of the blue. What influenced their decision? Who else may want to leave? How will your business be impacted? It’s natural to be concerned about these things. Other staff members will be asked to take on additional tasks and responsibilities to make up for the gap, and you don’t want that to negatively impact their motivational levels. So how do you go about preventing this from happening? Here are some things to keep in mind:
  • Retention plays a role from the beginning in your recruitment process. It’s essential to know the culture and strategy you want to instil in your business and make sure your potential candidate(s) match those. When using a recruitment company, the company you’re working with must take time to fully understand you and your business needs in order to find you the ideal candidate. AltGen’s recruitment team will always set up a meeting with you before working on your role to ensure that everything about your vacancy and business is understood.
  • Pick a candidate(s) who has a history of longevity with previous employment. This is one way to ensure your potential employee won’t hop from one job to the next after just a few months, increasing the likelihood of a longer employment relationship with your company. Seeing a candidate’s dedication to previous companies gives you a better idea of who they are as a person – loyal, determined, willing to ride the waves and not jump ship.
  • When deciding on a new hire, another thing to keep in mind is, do their values, vision, and mission align with your company’s? Finding an employee who resonates with your company’s core values is a recipe for success from the get-go. There is a higher chance of longevity when individuals feel they share the same values, vision and mission with their company.
  • A more obvious retention solution is to ensure you’re offering competitive packages. Specific skills can be scarce, especially in the renewable energy industry, and while money can’t solve everything, it can be a significant influencing factor in an employee’s decision to leave. AltGen offers free salary advice to clients in the Renewable Energy space if you’re unsure of salary ranges for specific roles. Click here to get in touch with us to find out more.
  • Lastly, recognition goes a long way. It could be something as simple as going out of your way to thank an employee for going the extra mile, but it is essential your employees feel valued and appreciated. Your gratitude or lack of what they do for your company can significantly influence how they think about their work.
It’s important to keep in mind that your company is only as strong as your staff. AltGen is here to help you hold on to your talent, and we’re here to help you find exceptional employees.

How to Prepare for a Job Interview

You’ve applied for the job and great news; your brilliant CV has piqued the company’s interest – but now reality sinks in (along with some nerves) and you realize that very soon it is time for an interview! You may know the saying “first impressions count” and nowhere is this more true than in the hiring process! According to a Harvard study, it only takes seven seconds to make a first impression on another person, so there is not a moment to waste! But how do you best enable yourself to make a great first impression? We asked our recruiters for their professional advice on how to prepare and start your interview off on a good foot. Below are some points to keep in mind. Always remember – while a CV may describe you, an interview distinguishes you.

Understand and respect your own professional journey.

One of the easiest means of this is to know your CV, how it expresses your vocational narrative and how your next step fits into this. It’s important your CV is accurate to avoid being misconstrued by a question on your achievements and previous employment. It is much better to have a strong grasp on what you have done so far in your career compared to a weak understanding of something that features in your CV. Your recruiter will go through your CV with you in preparation – ask them for insight into what may be asked. It is also important to know why you’ve applied for the role and how this job ties in with your future goals. Being asked where you see yourself in 5 – 10 years is a popular question for a reason!

Find out as much as you can about the company and specific job.

Your recruiter will provide information about the company, but it is important for you to do research on your own. It is incredible how many candidates will spend years on qualifications but fail to spend time preparing for an interview. This is like having a Ferrari in the garage but leaving your house without the keys! The horsepower means nothing if you can’t get your foot in the door. Interviewers like to see that you’ve taken the time to find out about the company, and it is important to know exactly what the company does in case you get asked such a question. Not knowing what your potential employer does, does not make a good impression! You can also research the role you’ve applied for. This will help you to think of potential questions to ask during the interview.

Prepare yourself for common questions.

Your recruiter will run through basic interview questions with you, this is a great way to prepare your answers. During an interview, you want to avoid not knowing what to say where possible, so preparing for common questions such as ‘what are your strengths?’, ‘what are your weaknesses?’, ‘why do you want to work here?’ is a great way to be prepared. Knowing what to say before the time will also help you feel calmer and more relaxed during the interview.

Take steps to make yourself and the conversation as comfortable as possible.

Your recruiter will let you know who in the company you’re interviewing with, use this as your opportunity to get to know the person you’ll be speaking to. Look them up on LinkedIn and find out more about the role they play within the company. You can also use this to try to figure out what sort of questions you may be asked. If the interviewer is in Human Resources, there’s a good chance you’ll be asked culture-based questions as opposed to a Head of Department who might ask more technical questions.

Better to be an hour early than a minute late.

If you are having an in-person interview, plan how you are going to get there – what route you will take and what mode of transport you’ll use. Ensure you set your alarm to avoid oversleeping, and aim to arrive 5 – 10 minutes early to give yourself time to settle in. Due to Covid-19, more interviews are taking place online. If this is the case for you, make sure that you have a stable internet connection, and test out your camera and microphone beforehand to avoid any technical problems during the interview.

Believe in yourself!

Remember that the interview goes both ways. You need to learn about the company as much as they need to learn about you. Based on research you’ve done on the company and the role, prepare questions to ask when given a chance. It’s important to take time to think about what you need to know about the job and the company to ensure it’s the right role for you.

Closing the interview.

If this is the role for you, be sure to express your interest and thank the interviewer for their time. Your recruiter will want to find out from you how you felt the interview went, and they will provide you with feedback from the company as soon as they can. If you are asked for a second interview, be prepared for further questions about yourself and your CV. Once the interview process is over, if you are the successful candidate, your recruiter will guide you through the job offer stage to ensure a smooth transition into your new role!

Protection of Personal Information Act – July 2021

The Act has been in play in South Africa since 2013 but has only become compulsory to enforce as of 01 July 2021. The POPI Act sets the conditions for responsible parties to lawfully process personal information.

Personal information is described as any information relating to an identifiable natural person or juristic person. This would include information such as name and surname; date of birth; contact details; age etc. The POPI Act is important as it protects people from harm such as identity theft and discrimination.

Each organisation is affected differently by POPI and the results of non-compliance can include fines, imprisonment, and reputational damage. As the Act becomes enforceable in South Africa, organisations are impacted by the way they process personal information, especially special personal information, children’s information, and account numbers.

In order to process information, organisations need to ensure that the following processing conditions are upheld:
  • Accountability: All legal entities need to be responsible, accountable and must comply with the conditions of the Act.
  • Processing Limitation: All legal entities need to know why they are processing and capturing private information. There also need to be limitations in place as to what information you process and how much there is.
  • Purpose Specific: The data must be captured for a specific and justifiable reason and the data subject needs to be aware of this.
  • Further Processing: Any further processing or use of information collected needs to be related to the original purpose of the information being collected.
  • Information Quality: All information collected must be correct, up to date and not misleading.
  • Openness: In order to ensure openness, notifications need to be sent to the party whose information is being captured.
  • Data Subject Participation: The party whose information you have, has the right to ask for any data you have about them. They can also request for this information to be deleted.
  • Security Safeguards: Firstly you need to identify the data that contains personal information and treat it with care. Secondly, all such information must be secured.
To ensure AltGen remains compliant, we have updated our internal policies and would like to bring the following changes to light:
  • Privacy Policy: Our Privacy Policy details why we make use of your personal information and the types of information we store about you. It can be found on our website here.
  • PAIA Manual: Our PAIA Manual, also found on our website, outlines how you may access information and who to contact within AltGen. See our manual here.

We also want to assure all our international clients and candidates out there that we are compliant with the GDPR.

AltGen respects the privacy of our candidates and clients. We will always provide you with the option to unsubscribe from marketing communication.

Our Information Officers are Lisa De Sousa and Lané Höll.

If you have questions – we are happy to help, just drop us a line.

AltGen Team.

Restraints of Trade in Employment Contracts

While the competition for skills in the renewables space is intense, there has been a definite trend of Employers resorting to imposing codified employment restrictions on current and potential Employees in the form of a Restraint of Trade in contracts of employment.

EMPLOYERS

So at the outset, in the interests of transparency, I have to make it clear that I do not support generalist and broad “Restraints”. In some instances, where there is a clear competitive edge to be gained from “opening up shop next door”, I would say a restraint may be justified and enforceable, but the restraints that we have seen coming through of late are so generalist and broad in scope, that they have zero chance of being upheld by a court.

Refer: “Hardware Centre versus Vallabh and Another” of March 2019, where the Respondent did in fact open a store next door (800m away) and the restraint was not upheld by the court.

Hardware Centre versus Vallabh (2019)

EXHIBIT A

“The Employee undertakes that he shall not… for a period of 12 months after leaving the employ of the Company for any reason whatsoever directly or indirectly set up in business or form part of any business in competition with the Company and/or which carries on a business similar to the Company”.

Guys, please go and get your lawyers / HR to please do the work that you pay them for. If you are serious that you have a specific service or product that is deserving of protection, the least you can do is specify what it is. This is such a broad clause and so arguable, any lawyer worth his or her fee can sidestep it in an instant.

  1. SPECIFY THE INTEREST DESERVING OF PROTECTION

For example: “Set up a business or work for another Employer in the manufacturing and/or assembly of energy storage components for sale and supply into the renewable energy industry”: may (I am not saying will) stand up, as long as it is accompanied by a qualifier on the geographical location as well as a time limit.

  1. SPECIFY THE GEO / SCOPE OF THE RESTRICTION

For example: “Set up a business in the manufacturing and/or assembly of energy storage components for sale and supply into the renewable energy industry into the distributed / home PV & storage market in the Western Cape”. Is possibly somewhat more enforceable, but still not enough.

If you are serious about having a service or product that is in some way unique and deserving of protection, then you need to be serious about how you word your restraint.

  1. SPECIFY THE TIME PERIOD

For example: We have seen restraints that are valid for 24 months, in PV component sales, in South Africa – clearly not enforceable! How is it reasonable to prevent someone from making a living in the area of their expertise in such a broad geography for such a long time? It is not, and it won’t be in the eyes of the courts either. The shorter the restraint, the greater its chance of its success. 6 months would perhaps be considered reasonable. 12 months or more, very unlikely, unless you are patenting a new COVID vaccine.

Lastly, take it seriously. If you honestly think that your product/service is worthy of a restraint, then make sure you are prepared to spend a year in court and spend R 100,000 to enforce it and get nothing in return. Are you seriously prepared to do this? if not, then all you are doing is using intimidation to hope that the ex-employee doesn’t come and work in your backyard.

EMPLOYEES

Do not make the mistake of taking a restraint personally. An Employer is also doing no more than trying to make a living and will often feel that need to defend their hard-won gains and turf. And very often, they are poorly advised and do not understand the HR or the law for that matter.

After all, Employers are in the business of doing business and HR and the legalise that come with that are often pretty low on their list in terms of priorities. Yes, yes I hear the coach commentators say, it is an Employers task to understand! After all, they are taking on the responsibility of employing.

But, the Renewable Energy space is by its very nature dominated by start-ups and early adopters, and they, by their nature, do not have the time and capacity for deep HR skills and understanding.

CLOSING

Let it be known: Not once in 8 years of recruitment in renewable energy in South Africa, have we ever had a case where an Employer has successfully defended a restraint of trade that they have imposed on one of our candidates/placements.