With thirty years experience in electronic and hydraulic engineering, Harald Schulz started Suntoy while tinkering in his home garage. Implicit in this startup formula is his passion for renewable energy. Over the last three years, Harald has thrived on the challenge of building a successful SMME despite its setbacks, long hours and financial risk. One that is now exporting solar lights worldwide.
The ultimate challenge for Harald, following his successful design and prototyping of the Consol Solar Jar, was not to mass produce a cheaper product in China. The better solution was to partner with Consol, invest in a product that is proudly South African and meet the needs for alternative energy resources and job creation.
For this entrepreneur, it’s not only about finding a scalable and profitable way to best design, manufacture and market a solar light. It’s about passion. He braved Kilimanjaro on a mission to test solar products at high altitudes and extreme temperatures. For Harald, it ultimately encompasses promoting an eco-friendly lifestyle and a green economy.
Affectionately known as Mr Sunshine, Harald’s enthusiasm for all things solar is contagious at the Suntoy factory where 40 people now work. Previously unskilled and unemployed, the factory staff are hired, trained and motivated to be solar enthusiasts. Every Suntoy employee believes that the solar-powered products they assemble are enriching lives – their own and their communities. Their SunFans and SunCars are teaching youngsters to discover, value and think solar. Their Consol Solar Jars are bringing light to living off-grid without electricity.
Suntoy started small and is gradually growing. Harald is building a global distribution network that permits Suntoy to sustainably manufacture the Consol Solar Jar.
Harald knows current comfort is short-lived. As the Suntoy Technical and Managing Director, he is hands on, accessible and aware that he has to continue opening new avenues. A one product wonder does not make for a sustainable business plan. So, Harald’s back at his tinker table, his zone of fiddling and fascination. There’s no rest for an impact entrepreneur strategically pondering the next step for Suntoy.