Building a solar generation

 Ali Abdel Hafiz, the founder and CEO of iSolarWorkx
Ali Abdel Hafiz, the founder and CEO of iSolarWorkx
As the Middle East shifts its view slowly toward renewable energy, the founder and CEO of iSolarWorkx Ali Abdel Hafiz has set his eye on a new generation.

An Egyptian who moved from the United Kingdom where he worked in energy trading and risk management consulting, Abdel Hafiz has created a product that changes the way children think about solar energy and how to learn.

“What we are trying to do is raise a young generation who is aware of green technology, who can be creative and innovative,” Abdel Hafiz recently told the Gulf News Journal. “I look at the science concepts and present these concepts in the form of experiments using my product. I teach the children using play.”

His product is a toy car kit that consists of a mini chassis, wheels, two shafts and gears, a motor, a solar pole, and panels and their holders. Children can remove and add solar panels one at a time to understand the relationship of how energy impacts the speed of the car. The gears are strong and slow, and weak and fast, to demonstrate principles of physics.

The kit also comes with a set of experiments that will encourage children to play while learning from their new toy.

“The unique piece is that we present this in Arabic as well,” Abdel Hafiz said. “All of this will be taken from the major curriculums in the world, and we put it in Arabic.”

Though Abdel Hafiz is challenging a culture of traditional learning, memorization and a reliance on textbooks, his product has been well received in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Last year, Mompreneurs Middle East and Impact Hub named him the winner of the Entrepreneur Rising startup award. His is the only non-software company at In5, a hub that focuses on projects that will help make Dubai an intelligent city.

Today, iSolarWorkx has orders from UAE schools, the Technology Development Committee in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah Science Museum and the environmental company Bee’ah in Sharjah. Like most entrepreneurs, Abdel Hafiz has struggled to secure funds, and is relying on crowdfunding sites such as KickStarter and Indigogo to prove the kit’s market worth. He also struggles with finding like-minded employees.

“Finding the right resources with the right mentality to join and help flourish a company, that’s not easy,” Abdel Hafiz said. “The pool in the region is quite small; and out of that, to select the right resources with the right mentality is the biggest challenge.”

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