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Zenito Silva: Exploring opportunities and innovation on São Nicolau

· Social Impact Invest

For a while now I've been impressed by the development of the Cape Verdean tech & start-up scene. I was interested in hearing a few stories, and wanted to understand both the motivation and challenges. In this series of interviews I'm speaking to young (start-up) entrepreneurs in Cape Verde. Despite challenging circumstances they are able to discover solutions and bring these to the market. Products that can create a better society. This is part 7:

Company Name: SN Energy

Interview with: Zenito Silva

Age: 28

Location: Ribeira Brava, São Nicolau

Problem/Solution: Providing smart electronic and green energy solutions

Stage: Pre-Seed

For this interview we travel to the island of São Nicolau. An island which has been at the center of many discussions in recent years. Many locals say the development of the island has come to a halt, because of problems with connecting São Nicolau to other islands around it.

A flight form São Vicente to São Nicolau takes about 15 minutes. The expensive tickets, plus the fact that there is always a stop in either Sal or Praia, don't make the situation easier. Although the connection by ferry has improved in the last year, there is still a lot of work to be done.

The goal of these series of interviews is to show you the incredible talent we have on all of our islands. So, it would not make sense to set up interviews with entrepreneurs in Praia and Mindelo and be happy with it. Although these two cities are home to about half of all Cape Verdeans, I find it very important to search for those people who will contribute to a better future in other places.

In this phase of the project I'm working on telling the stories of young talented entrepreneurs, but eventually the mission is to be able to financially support these entrepreneurs by partnering up with them. Besides starting capital, many of them could use a partner to help them with specific parts of the job, such as creating business models and sales & marketing. The project will also be about supporting them in these areas, building better businesses.

Zenito, what do you want to achieve with SN Energy?

"My company will focus on residencial and industrial electronical installation. One of the things I do is install decorative lighting. I'm also able to conduct audits, to check if everything is compliant with legal requirements."

"I'll also be selling electronic equipment online and offer custom made solutions for speakers. For speakers but also power banks I work with a 2D laserprinter, which allows me to create anything I want to design, out of woodwork."

"Green energy will also be an important part of my work. There is a lot of demand when it comes to these services and because of new laws around green energy it's now more attractive than ever to participate. It's a great way to reduce cost, simply by using what we have in abundance here."

"The search for various materials can be a bit difficult sometimes. Even when you can get all the materials you need for certain job, another issue can be the price/quality ratio."

How do you look at the current ecosystem in the country?

"It would be amazing if more people would get involved in investing in young entrepreneurs. It can take too long to get things done now, and the bureaucracy involved makes things harder. Sometimes you're forced to make other decisions because of the difficulties."

"I've been back now for about 7 months, after an internship on the island of São Vicente. If I had the chance, I would start today. I'm one of the few electrical engineers around, so there are definitely opportunities. I'm learning so much at my current job, that's why I can't wait to show what I'm capable of by myself."

What does your future look like?

"I really want to establish my company soon. I can't wait to build a future in the sector I'm currently working in. I dream of having my own office, maybe a shop as well. I could sell different materials from there. Maybe have my own workspace, so we can get creative and produce nice things. I'd love to create a social project, so I could teach younger kids all the things people have taught me throughout these years."

"I love to innovate. Automation is another passion of mine. Programming is something I really like to do, I can write code in the 'C language. I use these skills during carnaval here on the island. During our last carnival, I was responsible for the creation of the Copacabana float."

"Using Led lighting, we were able to create a game like theme on the car. I'm always a part of the yearly Christmas tree tradition here as well. I see this as a big honour. I just love to work on creative projects."

Ludmila Ramos

I had help with setting up this interview from Ludmila Ramos. She does important work on the island of São Nicolau, where she helps young people to get ready for the job market, and helps them to enter entrepreneurship by offering different courses. During my interview with Zenito, I asked him about Ludmila's work:

"It's a very interesting project. There are always courses available for people to follow. It's very important work, because it gives young people like me an opportunity to learn and even get funded."

Read other interviews in this series here: