By Mark Kawalya
Situated in the heart of the DRC, the Altech Group is a startup that provides energy solutions to last-mile households and institutions that have poor and off-grid access to electricity.
The firm’s strategy is centered on achieving universal energy access for the people of the DRC through solutions that directly involve the locals. The solutions must be at the heart of the indigenous people’s needs to solve their day-to-day energy deficit challenges.
Coming from underprivileged backgrounds, the startup’s co-founders, Washikala Malango and Iongwa Mashangao experienced what it means to grow up without energy access. During the Congolese civil war, the duo were forced to flee their home village of Baraka in South Kivu.
Growing up together in a Tanzanian refugee camp, a UNHCR worker spotted their ambition and helped them secure scholarships to the University of Dar es Salaam.
They later completed their degrees and earned the Washington Mandela Fellowship for Young African Leaders. Driven by their burning desire to create impact, the friends founded the Altech Group in 2013 in an ambitious drive to address the DRC’s energy deficit.
“I know firsthand what it is like to live without light and power. When I was a kid, we lived in a poor rural house, and my parents often had no money for kerosene. These experiences are the source of my motivation to help improve daily life in Congo.” Washikala Malongo says.
Altech enables users to afford quality, clean energy solutions to raise the quality of life for communities, one household at a time.
The firm’s portfolio includes solar products and emission-free cookstoves that are distributed using Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP) networks and offer payment terms that are BoP-friendly. By 2022, the firm hopes to reach 1.3 million clients while consequently moving 5 million lives up the energy access ladder.
The firm has developed an innovative, BoP-centered business model for the sale of its clean cookstoves to low-earning households. The cookstove is supplied to a household on credit without a cash deposit to the company. The family is educated about a savings mechanism that enables them to spend half what they were spending each day on charcoal. With these savings, they are able to pay for the clean stoves in installments to the firm’s sales agent for four months.
The startup has established the largest and most reliable youth-propelled distribution network for clean energy products in DRC. This has been done through leveraging digital technologies and establishing global partnerships with many players in the clean energy industry’s value chain.