Now CEO of Helvetic Solar Contractors, Patrick Ngowi was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug at a mere 15 years of age, with his mother as his primary investor. Ngowi borrowed $50 from his mother to purchase top-up vouchers from dealers to resell. Four years later, he received another loan from his mother to travel to Hong Kong and China to purchase mobile phones and accessories from low-cost manufacturers to resell to eager Tanzanian gadget enthusiasts. During his trips back and forth to China, Ngowi discovered solar panels. The discovery highlighted that only a tiny fraction of Tanzanians enjoyed any access to stable and reliable electricity.
Ngowi’s new venture would have to wait until he completed college at the insistence of his parents, who were both lecturers. He enrolled at the Denzhou University in China where he studied renewable energy.
At 22, Ngowi launched Helvetic Solar Contractors, which supplies, installs and maintains solar systems throughout the northern circuit of Tanzania.
According to Forbes, “In 2011, the company did $2.8 million in revenues, then $6.8 million in 2012. The company is in line to do $10 million revenues this year. Some of Helvetic’s major clients include the United Nations, the Tanzanian Army, WorldVision, and the Lutheran Church, among others.”
Producer, writer, director and actress are all the titles that can precede Issa Rae. The Stanford University graduate struck gold on her third web series on YouTube called “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl.” The series propelled Rae into the paths of “Scandal” creator and writer Shonda Rhimes; producer Larry Wilmore; and Pharrell Williams, who offered to host the series on his YouTube channel.
Before creating the series, Rae told Amanda de Cadenet of “The Conversation” earlier this year, “The Internet is where you can find what you’re not seeing in TV and film. I’m a fan first; I didn’t see enough content of color that I could relate to.”
Rae is firmly in the driver’s seat of creating content to which other Black people like herself can relate. Although ABC passed on her “I Like L.A. Dudes” collaboration with Shonda Rhimes, she’s working with HBO and Larry Wilmore to create a show about a young Black woman, in which she’s set to star.
Rae’s new web series “The Choir” ended its first season in mid-October, and she’s currently writing a book of personal essays as well as working on other projects.