Innovative Sustainable Solution for Economic Development
SolarFi Cares will use our Bliss product, an energy-autonomous, mobile, and flexibly designed solar pod surrounded by solar panels, as part of a project to support women/BIPOC-owned businesses. A modified Bliss pod/kiosk provides a retail front for all types of vending in many areas. Combined with business training programs, we have the potential to help minority and women-owned businesses to easily set up their businesses, functioning as a business-in-a-box.
What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?
BIPOC- and Women-Owned Businesses
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
County of Los Angeles
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?
Pilot or new project, program, or initiative
What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?
In the US as a whole and LA specifically, it is incredibly difficult to be a minority or woman small business owner. Setting up a business is challenging because of the social and economic barriers that exist. Government data in 2019 states that only 2.9% of businesses with more than one employee were black-owned, and women entrepreneurs struggle to get the same level of training and education to succeed. Fixed costs like utilities and rent make it difficult for early-stage success, especially with limited access to capital. It is essential to empower minority and women entrepreneurs through training and easing the burden of these fixed costs, which are especially expensive in LA. Especially in times of economic hardship, we need to support those who are working hard to improve their lives and their communities. Through this support, the economic inequality in our cities can be corrected.
Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.
SolarFi Cares has a solution to this problem. Through the SolarFi Bliss product, we hope to provide a space for women and minority entrepreneurs to get started easily. SolarFi Bliss is an energy-autonomous, mobile, and flexibly designed solar pod surrounded by solar panels. Its design emphasized quality, environmental friendliness, reliability, and also allure, and inspiration. Bliss generates from 3.3 kW to 8 kW of power, more than an average single-family home requires per day. It will help to reduce the cost of doing business operations. Bliss is self-sufficient, as solar power is stored in powerful and long-lasting batteries with the autonomy of up to ten hours. It provides internet connectivity to help businesses connect with E-markets and process credit card payments in any location. Bliss is a revolutionary kiosk with a unique design that can be used as a food and beverage stand, information point, retail store, food truck, and more. Most importantly, Bliss is a mobile unit that is easy to transport, set up, and operate. It may be placed virtually anywhere, as long as there is sun and sufficient space so that business owners can efficiently utilize any available space, relocating as necessary and moving their stores to events, festivals, and target markets.
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
Small business growth is a goal for a regional economic development plan. Empowering minorities and women to easily and rapidly set up their businesses will motivate them to grow their businesses, and their successes will empower others as well. As businesses grow, this can create jobs in lower-income areas of the community. The indirect impact of helping one minority small business owner can have positive ripples across a whole community. Bliss gives them the infrastructure to focus on doing their businesses. In the short term, we hope to provide Bliss to eligible small businesses along with the necessary training to empower business owners to succeed. As SolarFi Cares is a non-profit, we will seek to make this affordable and worthwhile for all business owners who are looking to build and grow. In the long term, this product could become a way for sustainable businesses and utilize any space available for the business and an easy-to-maintainable area for doing their business.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
This is a pilot project for SolarFi cares, as we have not yet conducted any work in Los Angeles. A prior effort for SolarFi cares was to provide our business-in-a-box technology to African women who previously run businesses providing a cellphone charging service. However, as our partner company SolarFi Ventures, Inc. has been selected as part of Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI)’s recent cohort, we are looking to make a positive impact in Los Angeles, our new home. We are prepared for success with this program because we are led by successful entrepreneurs and one of the most successful young women in all of Africa, Amb. Yvonne Khamati. We will constantly be working closely with the selected businesses, evaluating the success of our work constantly. If we can help these businesses become profitable or gain access to additional funding, this would be successful.
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
Direct Impact: 10
Indirect Impact: 100,000