14 Jun 2022 by

Arion Power

Arion Power received its pre-seed funding and assistance with cash flow from sefa. Here’s a look at the business, founded by a group of postgraduate students as part of the University of Cape Town’s Genesis programme.

Arion Power

1. Tell us about your business and how it is making a difference in your community or township?

“Arion Power was founded predominantly to try and solve power issues in South Africa, and Africa, in the future. Our first flagship product, the WiBox UPS system, is designed to keep your Wi-Fi and fibre online during unexpected power outages or load-shedding.

“The aim was to develop a device that promotes uninterrupted productivity at the most accessible price point possible.”

2. Can you briefly explain your line of business and the biggest challenges you face as young and upcoming entrepreneurs?

“Arion Power is a technology company that aims to make access to connectivity and power inexpensive and efficient through our product offering. Our flagship product, the WiBox, is a proudly South African product solving a South African problem by South Africans.

“It’s manufactured in Africa and helps to provide jobs to communities in the current economy. In addition, we have tried to make it as affordable as possible so that it competes with imports from the likes of China.

“Some key challenges we faced were access to markets and bureaucratic policies that slowed down our ability to innovate at an accelerated pace and test the market with different iterations of products and services.”

3. How has sefa contributed to the success of your business?

sefa assisted with pre-seed funding to move from prototype to a market-ready product, as well as assistance with cash flows and [guidance on] how to improve productive capacity and grow as a business.”

4. Is there a crucial need for entities such as sefa in building our economy. If so, why is that?

“It’s crucial for entities such as sefa to assist the SMME market to grow and expand into new horizons. Access to capital is every entrepreneur’s biggest challenge, and having entities that support high-growth start-ups at infancy is the cure we need for our youth unemployment figures that are slowing economic growth in South Africa.”

5. June marks Youth Month in South Africa. How can public and private institutions support the youth to start their own businesses?

“They can help them through intentional collaborations with youth businesses that are geared at the tech and digital space in South Africa.

“The aim should be to build companies locally that will be able to participate at a global level. We cannot expect to see South African tech unicorns if we don’t cultivate an environment that allows entrepreneurs to go out and build without fear of failure or stagnation.”

6. Do you employ any young people in your business? How has this changed their lives?

“Yes, our whole workforce is composed of young people. And for everyone in the business, this has reignited hope that no matter how bad circumstances may be, if the effort and drive are there, you can make anything of yourself while still positively reinforcing and empowering other youth through collaboration.”

7. How have your priorities changed from when you first started your business?

“I don’t believe our priorities have changed. However, they have got bigger. We started the business with the aim of solving just a small aspect that we saw was lacking in our economy.

“We’ve since realised that access to affordable connectivity and efficient energy power sources is a continent-wide issue. As such, we aim to connect the unconnected, improve access to digitisation and energy, and encourage other budding entrepreneurs to go out and do the best they can.”

8. What advice can you give to young people who wish to start their own businesses?

“Don’t be afraid to start. Don’t be afraid to build. Growth and success will come if you plant the seed and take time to cultivate it.”

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