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Power to the people Tony Geldenhuys is a strong believer in giving power back to the people, or at least in saving them money when it comes to their electricity bills. His company, Solarent, is a direct answer to the challenges every South African is facing today, with regard to continuous increases in electricity prices, uncertainty about the energy future and frustration with Eskom, not to mention a growing environmental awareness. Solarent provides a range of solar energy products, he says, either on a rent-to-own basis, via a finance option or through a direct cash purchase. These solutions include the revolutionary locally manufactured system known as Heatbox. This is installed in homes where there is an existing geyser and allows the owner to increase the volume of water by 150 litres, on top of what already have in the electric geyser. In terms of what it saves a customer in electricity bills, payback generally occurs in approximately a year and a half. Tony says the financial rewards and freedom to do his own thing are key reasons he launched his own business, along with the fact that he is now working in a niche where he can help people tackle the thorny issue of high electricity costs. In addition, he is excited by the opportunity to witness extensive growth in both the business and in his employees and colleagues. He says that currently, his focus lies on continous improvement in the quality of the company’s installations and increasing its ability to respond more effectively to clients’ needs. He also aims to keep prices affordable and in those instances where something goes wrong, to sort it out for the customer, no questions asked. Further down the line, Tony’s plans include developing Solarent into a franchise model, which would include a strong installation base. This, he adds, would also afford the opportunity to train previously disadvantaged technicians to enable them to perform installations, thereby improving job creation.

On-air Interview