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Power alternative to load shedding: A long-term solution during hard times

Entrepreneur Nafisa Fareed. Picture supplied.

Entrepreneur Nafisa Fareed. Picture supplied.

Published Jun 27, 2022

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Johannesburg - At a time when many companies were closing their doors, Nafisa Fareed re-imagined her business strategy to ensure that it not only survives, but thrives by providing a viable and affordable solution to something that disrupts the lives of all South Africans – load shedding.

After predicting, some years ago, that load shedding was going to become a major problem, Fareed recognised that while there was an array of alternative energy players in South Africa, the truth was that these companies only service the elite.

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Fareed made it her mission to come up with innovative and price-conscious solutions to create the opportunity for everyday South Africans to get off the grid.

She showed how affordable alternative energy solutions can actually break our dependence on Eskom.

With the establishment of Power4Less, chief executive Fareed has provided a back-up power supply to the market for the near future that requires no installation.

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The Joburg-based company recently introduced its first consumer offering, the Mobi-Volt. The portable battery is heavy, but can be wheeled around like hand luggage.

It is aimed at consumers living in residential areas. While the Mobi-Volt is not as loud and obvious as a generator, there is some noise in the room where it stands. The company says quieter models are coming.

It can be used for your electronics, as well as appliances such as washing machines, air fryers, hairdryers or medical equipment needed during a power cut.

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It offers three ways to recharge: a standard plug point, a car charger or a solar charging panel that is supplied. It has an LED battery indicator, two USB ports, one three-pin plug and a DB board connection. You can choose between an AC or DC output. It supports multi-plugs.

The Mobi-Volt comes in various capacities. The wattage on essential appliances will help you decide which output best suits your household.

Fareed, who’s worked in the energy sector for 13 years as a solar energy technician, said it was the core vision and passion of the business to deliver solutions that change the lives of consumers.

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“While you can have an electricity bill that is low, you don’t have power at that moment and that’s where the frustration comes in. This is a market that has always catered to a certain Living Standard Measure (LSM). When one thinks of alternative power, one thinks of it as unaffordable.

“We found there was a gap in the market, and a lot of hard work went in, in the year 2020 when the unaffordability level of our country increased. But the pressure and problems that every South African faced remained, if not increased,” Fareed said.

She stressed that electricity is a basic need whichever way one looks at it. It is needed to function – to cook, or to have lights, to be able to do what we need to do.

“We looked at the market and knew we needed to design a solution that met the quality needs that drive us as a business, but one that is also affordable to South Africans. That way, we can make power available for everyone to give some sort of relief during load shedding, even if it’s the first step,” said Fareed.

She said the mid-level 1.5kW unit size gives you 3kWh a day and can simultaneously power four laptops, a router, four phones, two TV sets, one DStv decoder, one microwave or air fryer and one inkjet printer for four hours. This unit retails for R14 000. An entry-level Mobi-Volt costs R9 999.

The 13kg 1.2kW unit costs R12 950. It can be used for phones, laptops, the TV, PlayStation, microwave, a portable laser machine — anything at the recommended 1 000W or less.

The Mobi-Volt, as a long-term solution, could do with additional ports, but productivity outweighs the niggles.

Fareed said she wanted to make sure that it was accessible to anyone in the country, hence the company’s partnership with Makro and Builders Warehouse, which is where consumers can purchase their Power4Less products.

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