Patrick Ngowi: the self-made millionaire revolutionising solar in Tanzania

The TRUE AFRICA 100 is our list of innovators, opinion-formers, game-changers, pioneers, dreamers and mavericks who we feel are shaping the Africa of today.

Patrick is a Tanzanian entrepreneur, businessman and philanthropist. He started his first business at the age of 15 with $50, selling mobile phones from China in Tanzania. He studied renewable energy at Denzhou University in China. After graduating, Patrick began exporting solar products to Tanzania with a loan of $1,800 from his mother. He set up a small shop in Arusha.

Patrick has now grown his enterprise into investment multi-million dollar company Helvetic Group, one of its most successful ventures being Helvetic Solar Contractors. The company has had reported revenues over $8 million USD and its clients include the United Nations, World Vision, and the Tanzanian Army.

Patrick is also the founder of Light For Life Foundation, which has provided over 1,000 solar panels to women and  young people in off-grid communities in Tanzania.



Looking back, what advice would you give to a very young entrepreneur trying to make it?

I think what’s important is for an entrepreneur to find something that they are passionate about and that drives them wholeheartedly; a cause that will bring profit but also put a smile on his or her face at the end of a hard day’s work.



This is key because there will be good and definitely bad times; the passion is what will drive him or her through. They need a strong and committed purpose.



How do you see the relationship between China and Africa developing in the coming years?

The relationship between China and Africa is a complex one. It definitely has its merits and demerits. I think what’s key is that Africa should have strong and clear goals; understand and carefully scrutinize the trade-off needed in attaining those goals. We shouldn’t have a myopic view.

Who’s your African of the year?

I won’t give it to a particular person but rather to a group of people: African women. In my opinion, African women have endured and continue to endure many challenges but yet the majority of them rise up to these challenges every day. It’s quite inspiring.

Follow Patrick on Twitter @PatrickNgowi

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