Potenco Blogs


Potenco at BarCampAfrica 2008

Barcamp Africa Logo

On Saturday, Mike, Jess and I spent the day at BarCampAfrica, an event bringing together a very interesting group of people with varied histories and interests, to talk and learn about Africa.

Google graciously hosted the event (and hopefully didn’t mind that we sampled a fair amount of their free food ; ) )

I believe there were 175 people in attendance and while the majority of attendees were US citizens (CA an MN seemed to be well represented), I think the list of African nationalities represented was pretty comprehensive.  I personally talked to folks from Ghana, Nigeria, S. Africa, Uganda, Rwanda, & Senegal.

Details of the day can be found on the BarCampAfrica site,  & by checking out postings on Twitter (#barcampafrica).

Big thanks to Ellen Lease & her team of volunteers for pulling the great day together.  Thanks as well to all the participants for making it such an interesting & rewarding event.  

We at Potenco are very much looking forward to the day when we can travel and see both the impact we’ve had (creating power entrepreneurs, helping find alternatives to kerosene lighting, etc) as well as signs that the community fostered at BCA (of social entrepreneurs, philanthropists, activists & technologists) has inspired and contributed to the growth of new institutions and practices improving the lives of people across Africa.

All the best,

Brian Warshawsky
VP Operations & Co-founder
Potenco Inc.

Some initial Potenco related photos:
DSCF2247
by Erica M. Lee, on Flickr

DSCF2191
by Erica M. Lee, on Flickr

Miquel Hudin testing Potenco
Miquel Hudin testing Potenco by Maneno.org, on Flickr


Market Analysis and Field Research

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We are doing extensive market analysis and field research to effectively indentify our target markets and understand the specific needs of consumers in these markets.  We recently completed extensive field research in Uganda and will soon be underway with market analysis & consumer research in Brazil, India and Kenya.

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Field Research in Rural Bangladesh

November 2007, Potenco sent a research team to Bangladesh to investigate the state of electrification first hand.  To get a sense of how our PCG would fit into a rural unelectrified culture we spent time traveling in the central and southwest areas of the country.

Deer in Mongla Fishing Village

Our travels took us to Khulna, Mongla and Dhaka where we tested prototypes with the locals and got feedback on how they could use the PCG in their lives.  As expected, there is a huge need for clean, renewable lighting.

Fishing Village in Mongla, Bangladesh

Kerosene lamps and open flames were abundant as light sources.  The soot byproduct from these lamps permeated all areas of the houses that used them.The input we got from villagers was very positive and encouraging.  Most were pleasantly surprised by the amount of pulling required to create usable light.

Market stalls in Dhaka

With the communications infrastructure as it is, a great number of Bengladeshis have mobile phones.  The mobile coverage throughout most of the country is fantastic.  The average villager that owns a cell phone charges it from a 12 volt car battery, another task that the PCG is very well suited for.Overall our trip was a great success and we have gained more insight into the power needs of rural unelectrified areas.  The Bengladeshi people we met with were wonderfully helpful and eager to see our product made available.  We intend to take what we have learned from Bangladesh and incorporate it into our development process to make Potenco’s products as useful, powerful and organic as possible to fit the end users’ needs.

Brian and Mitch in Dhaka, Bangladesh