Kamworks

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Overview

Making sustainable solar products for off-grid people

 

Overview

Headquarters: Cambodia
Established: 2006
Impact Areas: Cambodia
Type: For-Profit
Energy Sectors:
Business Model Types:
Staff Size: 25 and 1-5 volunteers
Annual Budget: $300,000
Major Funders: Grants
Awards:
  • 2006 World Bank Development Marketplace Award
  • 2009 Cifial Feel the Planet Design Award
  • 2010 Best Clean Energy Technology at the Asian Clean Energy Forum

ABOUT

Kamworks is a solar energy company aimed at making innovative products for off-grid populations in Cambodia and beyond. Kamworks has developed an award-winning solar light, the MoonLight, as well as several other products. By setting up assembly in country, Kamworks aims at technology transfer and better service.

 

Energy Products/Services

Target Market

  • In Cambodia, there are approximately 10 million people without access to the grid, spending an estimated $170M per year on fossil fuels for light, phone and TV.
  • Globally, there are approximately 1.4 billion people without access to grid electricity.

 

Kamworks

Revenue Streams

  • Sale of energy products
  • Grants and Donations

Value Proposition

  • For 10 million off-grid rural people in Cambodia, Kamworks solar products provide an affordable, clean and safe alternative to inefficient, fire hazardous and unhealthy kerosene lighting and cumbersome car battery charging with diesel generators.

Problem Addressed

  • Lack of access to grid electricity

Where They Are Now

Impact to Date

  • 15,000 off-grid people receiving modern energy services
  • 20 permanent rural clean energy jobs created
  • 9 solar lantern rental entrepreneurs active

Milestones

  • 2006: $175K seed funding from World Bank
  • 2009: MoonLight solar lantern introduced in Cambodia
  • 2010: Expansion funding secured
  • 2011: Won $500K World Bank subcontract to install 12,000 solar home systems in Cambodia
  • 2011: Santa Clara Global Social Benefit Incubato

Growth Plan

  • 2012: Have MoonLight V2.0 and solar phone charger available
  • 2013: Expand solar home system sales to 200 systems per quarter
  • 2013: Exports of MoonLights and phone chargers to 3 other countries

How They Deliver

Product Sourcing & Design

  • Kamworks assembles all its products in Cambodia specifically because it wants to build local manufacturing and repair capacity.  This is in reaction to the number of donor-financed solar projects which have fallen apart due to lack of local capacity to repair products.
  • This approach does make Kamworks’ products about 20% more expensive than those manufactured in China.
  • Kamworks also designs its own products with participation from customers, incorporating suggested design features.
    • The Moonlight does not have its solar cell integrated with the light.  It is detachable so that customers can leave the panel outside to charge while they go to the fields, and leave the light locked safely in their houses.
    • The Moonlight is also rainwater proof, since in Cambodia, many people want to use their lamps for fishing and frog catching.
    • Kamworks’ solar panels and batteries come from China and their charge controllers from abroad.  Kamworks makes the plastic battery boxes themselves.

Distribution

  • Kamworks is still experimenting with a number of distribution models.
  • Close to their headquarters, they have their own installers and salespeople.
  • Farther away they do marketing through microfinance banks which  display the products in their offices.
  • Kamworks has a contact person that the MFI then contacts when a customer is interested.
  • Kamworks is also piloting a rental scheme, but only in a small number of places.  They are trying to find the right model and thus far it is still cash intensive.
  • Kamworks has thus far partnered with 1 MFI and have just expanded to 5 provinces, with 20 offices.
  • Kamworks offers a 1 year warranty.  For nearby customers, they send their own technician. Farther away they train independent technicians.

Revenue & Affordability

  • Customers buy Moonlight lanterns for cash, but the solar home systems are generally financed by MFIs.
  • Kamworks also prefinances 20-30 microentrepreneurs who rent out lamps. Generally each has 40 lamps, and do not pay any upfront fees.
  • These entrepreneurs are recruited from the communities in which they work, which helps them know who needs lights and who pays their bills on time.  They are generally chosen through the local authorities or the village chief.  The dropout rate is 50%.
  • Kamworks recruits entrepreneurs through a 1 day training.  Entrepreneurs are expected to make a list of customers and take 1-2 lights as a demo.  When they come back they are provided with the 40 Moonlights.
  • Entrepreneurs pay half their profit to Kamworks.
  • Because they are rented, the lanterns do get beat up, but they are generally easy to repair.

Financing

  • Kamworks is mostly financed with grant money.
  • While commercial activities are paid for by customers, grant funding is used for projects.
  • Kamworks is currently able to sell solar lanterns to medium poor people, but to scale up, they will require investment money, which would be specifically used as working capital for the Moonlight rental business, as a separate business unit.
  • Kamworks initially tried to sell the lanterns to their entrepreneurs with financing over time, (essentially turning the rental scheme into a rent-to-own scheme), but entrepreneurs were not comfortable with the idea of being in debt and preferred to just rent the lanterns out and split profit with Kamworks.

Scaling

  • Kamworks is running a pilot to scale their rental scheme to 3,000 lanterns.
  • They are also developing a new Moonlight with a phone charger built in.

Government & Donor Relations

  • Kamworks is currently implementing a World Bank contract to install 12,000 solar home systems.
  • They had initially fought the contract because they did not agree with the approach, since the project will double the number of solar home systems in Cambodia at subsidized rates, and therefore adversely affect the market.
  • However, in the end they bid on and won the contract because they thought it was better to at least ensure it was done well.

Social Impact

  • Kamworks measures their impact primarily based on the number of systems sold and the number of active village entrepreneurs.

 

Moonlight

Description: Locally assembled solar lamp to replace kerosene.  Lamp is waterproof and  solar panel is detachable so panel can be charged outside and lamp can be locked safely indoors while farmer is in the fields.Product SheetHow It’s Used:
Cooking, Reading, Work, Study, Eating, Socializing, Walking, Riding Bicycles, Orientation, Security, Fishing, Frog Catching

Product Type:

Self-Sufficient Portable

Technical Data

Lumens/Watt:  42
Average Lamp Power and type:  .7W – 6 LEDs
Battery Capacity and type:  1000 mAh 2.4V NiCad
Hours Runtime/Charge:  3 light levels High- 4 hours, Medium- 20 hours, Low- 40 hours
Charging Hours from Flat:  4.5
Lumens:  30
Lumen-hours/year@4hr/day:  43,946
Service Delivered (lm.hr/$):  7,848
Kerosene Service Delivered (lm.hr/$):  872

Cost Data

Number of Households Served  1
Upfront Cost
Estimated Retail Price:  US$25
Recurring Costs
 Replaceable Products Life(years) Replacement Costs
Battery  2.5  $1.50
5-year Replacement Costs  $3
5-year Ownership Cost  $28

Other Products

  • Larger Scale Institutional Solar Systems

Solar Home system

Description:
20, 40, and 80W solar home systems, which include varying numbers of lights and can power increasingly powerful TVs and lights, generally for 4 hours per night.  Kamworks also offers a system with an AC plug for appliances.  All systems come with a tall fiberglass pole to hang the panel on.How It’s Used:20, 40, 80W systems: Evening lighting, TV, mobile phone charger, radio, small nightlight

80W AC inverter system: table fans, color TVs

Product Type:

Solar Home System

Technical Data

Hours/Day of Service:  CFL or TV-4 hours, LED all night
Lumens/Watt:  50
Average Lamp Type and Power (W):
7W and 11W CFL
Battery Capacity (mAh):  40,000 and 20,000 mAH Sealed AGM Batteries
Hours Runtime/Charge:  Depends on products used, average 4 hours with TV and lights
Charging Hours from Flat:  4.5 sun hours
Lumens:  ~900
Lumen-hours/year@4hr/day:  1,314,000
Service Delivered (lm.hr/$):  18,386
Kerosene Service Delivered (lm.hr/$):  872

 

Cost Data

Number of Households Served  1
Upfront Cost
Estimated Retail Price: 20W $229
40W $369
80W $700
Recurring Costs
 Replaceable Products Life(years) Replacement Costs
Lamp 1 $15 (3 lamps)
Battery  2.5  $1.50
5-year Replacement Costs (20W) $128.33
5-year Ownership Cost (20W) $357.33

More Resources

Online Resources

Contact Information

Sre Ampil village
Chher Teal Commune Keansvay District
Kandal
Cambodia

( +855 99872220
*jeroen@kamworks.com