Patrick Ngowi is a Tanzanian entrepreneur and CEO of Helvetic Solar Contractors, a company that supplies, installs and maintains solar systems throughout the northern circuit of Tanzania.
Ngowi got his first taste of business when, as a high school student, he started selling top-up vouchers with a take-off capital of only $50.
At the time, mobile phone companies like Vodacom, Tigo and others had only just established operations in the country and the only place to find recharge vouchers were in the shopping malls and exclusive phone shops. There were very few distributors or super dealers in Arusha, a mid-sized commercial city that serves as the gateway to the northern circuit where Ngowi lives.
Ngowi noticed that most people in his neighborhood who wanted to top-up their phones had to travel significant distances to buy airtime. Spotting an opportunity, Ngowi raised Tsh 50,000 (about $50) from his mother and bought top-up vouchers from the big dealers.
Since he was still in high school and couldn’t devote much time to the business, he mobilized fuel station pump attendants in the local community to sell the vouchers. He made a small margin on each sale and kept at it for the next two years.
When he turned 18 years, he received a loan of $1,800 from his parents. Since then, he has masterminded the growth of Helvetic into a group of diversified companies.
Helvetic Solar Contractors (1st Place Winner of KPMG’s Top 100 Mid-Sized Companies in Tanzania Award 2012) remains one of the most popular subsidiaries of Helvetic Group. It was the first company to offer solar solutions in northern Tanzania.
Patrick Ngowi: A Man Of Many Parts
Patrick is not just an Entrepreneur. He is also an Environmentalist, Climate Reality Awareness Leader, Public Speaker, Youth Mentor, Published Columnist and Philanthropist.
In June 2016, Patrick Ngowi was selected and recognized by the United Nations Secretary General – Ban ki-moon at the United Nations General Assembly, as 1 of 10 Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) Global Pioneers inaugaural class of 2016. The recognition was for translating UN’s Sustainable Development Goals into Sustainable Local Businesses.
In 2014, Ngowi was invited to speak at the World Bank and IMF Annual Meeting held in Washington DC, United States America on the Youth Dialogue panel on Inclusive Growth and Entrepreneurship through Education, Innovation and Passion.
He was also invited to speak at the Harvard Africa Business Conference held at Harvard University and the African Development Bank Annual Meeting in 2014 held in Kigali, Rwanda.
Patrick Ngowi is also the founder of the Light for Life Foundation (L4L), a non- profit organisation that installs solar and small wind power systems for the less privileged youth and women in rural parts of Tanzania.
The social enterprise mainly targets rural primary and secondary schools. It also works and mentors low income youth and women doing businesses in rural parts of Tanzania.