Here you will find some questions & answers on the organisation, work and membership of Solar-Connect eG.
The cooperative combines in a special way the concern of its members for social action, with the claim to do this in an economically sustainable way and to generate profits.
A cooperative is not a corporation (AG, GmbH or fund), where the focus is usually on maximising profits. However, it is also not a non-profit organisation that pursues purely charitable purposes.
The cooperative sees itself as a community of like-minded people who work on the implementation of an idea. The priority of the cooperative’s interests over the financial interests of its members is also reflected in the fact that – unlike in a corporation – the investing members do not decide on the cooperative’s fate.
The Management Board is monitored by the Supervisory Board. Numerous decisions of the Management Board require the approval of the Supervisory Board before they can be implemented.
Each cooperative is a member of a cooperative association that regularly carries out an independent audit of its business activities and annual accounts.
The Supervisory Board and Management Board of Solar-Connect eG work on a voluntary basis during the start-up phase. The Management Board will decide on possible remuneration for their work at a later date.
Solar-Connect eG is a trading cooperative. We supply high-quality solar energy systems for energy generation as well as associated consumer appliances and enable our customers to purchase the products at low interest rates by means of supplier credits where necessary. We operate in the respective countries through local partner companies that take care of the end customers.
Solar-Connect eG is a trading company. We sell solar products to partner organisations and, if necessary, grant them a payment term. The solar products remain the property of the cooperative as collateral until final payment is made.
No. The many crowdfunding organisations raise capital from small investors for individual, isolated projects. Crowdfunding organisations usually grant cash loans and promise a fixed interest rate.
Solar-Connect eG, on the other hand, is a trading cooperative that supports and accompanies entrepreneurial development in the partner countries rather than individual projects. For this purpose, we grant supplier credits, not cash credits. In addition, we provide long-term support to our partner organisations in their development.
Solar-Connect eG is therefore not looking for investors for individual projects, but for members who support the activities of the cooperative.
In order to install and maintain solar systems in off-grid regions of developing countries, a permanent presence of trained solar technicians is required. This proximity to the customer can best be guaranteed by local companies.
First of all, local partner companies must work in the same sense as our cooperative, i.e. they should not be concerned with short-term profit, but rather with building a sustainable and reliable infrastructure for installation, maintenance and customer service. An important part of the work on site must therefore be the medium-term establishment of a network of rural service stations in particular.
Poor does not mean destitute! Households in developing countries are already spending a lot of money on energy for their income levels: depending on household size and income, a rural family in Kenya, for example, spends between 5 and 20 US dollars per month on kerosene, batteries and candles. This corresponds to up to 15% of the monthly income. By selling through an installment purchase model, we are now enabling households to use the money previously spent on energy to pay for a solar system. This produces more reliable electricity than the old energy sources and is also clean. Once the solar system has been paid off, a family produces its required energy self-sufficiently and no longer has to spend money on its daily electricity needs.
Solar-Connect eG uses a special technology for this purpose: If a due instalment is not paid, the solar system automatically switches off and the household has no electricity. When the instalment is paid, the customer receives an activation code.
No, on the contrary! If we want to help people at the bottom of the income pyramid to improve their living conditions, we have to take them seriously as customers with their own wishes – and not as recipients of benefits. The availability of clean and affordable energy helps the people in our partner countries to improve their living conditions through their own efforts.
An economically stable model is the only way to ensure long-term healthy development in economic and social terms. However, unlike most other companies, Solar Connect eG does not maximise profits. We try to combine social, ecological and financial sustainability. Therefore, we are profit-oriented.
Ein wirtschaftlich stabiles Modell ist der einzige Weg, um dauerhaft eine gesunde Entwicklung in wirtschaftlicher und gesellschaftlicher Hinsicht zu ermöglichen. Im Gegensatz zu den meisten anderen Unternehmen ist Solar Connect eG jedoch nicht gewinnmaximierend tätig. Wir versuchen, soziale, ökologische und finanzielle Nachhaltigkeit zu verbinden. Daher sind wir gewinnorientiert.
The cooperative is currently (2019) active in Ethiopia, Kenya, Senegal, Mali, Mozambique, Uganda and Sierra Leone.
The investment in Solar-Connect eG is an economic investment that is associated with specific risks. These include, for example, political instability, currency risks or delivery failures. At Solar-Connect eG we have taken numerous precautions to minimise the business risk (internal control, diversification across various partner countries, creation of reserves). But of course, there is no absolute certainty. In the worst case, your invested capital could be lost.
As a member of Solar-Connect eG you are only liable with the money you have paid for the cooperative shares. If Solar-Connect eG gets into financial difficulties, you are not obliged to make additional payments.
Individuals, partnerships, foundations and legal entities under private or public law may become members of Solar-Connect eG. For more information click here!
The members of a cooperative are virtually co-entrepreneurs. They are supposed to ensure that the cooperative’s incentive purpose remains in the foreground and not – as with a corporation – the maximisation of profits.
If a cooperative needs more capital than its members can raise to realise its aims, German cooperative law provides for the possibility of admitting so-called “investing members”. These members have the task of providing capital to the cooperative but may not have a decisive influence on the cooperative. In this way, the legislator wants to ensure that the cooperative’s promotional purpose remains the main focus. This is exactly where a significant difference to the corporation (stock corporation or GmbH) lies.
At Solar-Connect eG there are only two differences between members and investing members:
- The minimum number of shares to be acquired is higher for the investing members
- Investing members have no voting rights
Investing members acquire at least 10 shares in the cooperative, which corresponds to an amount of 2,000 euros. Beyond the minimum share, you can purchase as many additional shares as you wish (1 share at 200 euros).
Yes, a member can transfer his or her share capital to another member at any time, even during the course of the business year, by written contract and thereby leave the cooperative, provided the acquirer becomes a member in his or her place.
In this case we need the signature of the legal representative.
Depending on the business development, we expect an annual dividend of approximately 3% for members.
investing member, am I a “second-class member”?
No, because you have the same rights as all other members in essential points:
- You have a full right to dividends.
- They may attend all general meetings and may also submit motions and request information in this regard
- You can be elected to the supervisory board
The fact that some of the investors have no voting rights is common practice in cooperatives. For example, there are non-voting shares in a public limited company or a silent partnership in a private limited company.
German cooperative law stipulates that investing members may not determine the fate of the cooperative. This is to prevent that – as with a pure corporation – economic interests alone determine the cooperative activity. Rather, the aim is to ensure a balance between social concerns and economic success.
In accordance with the legal requirements, investing members therefore have no voting rights in Solar-Connect eG.
Your commitment enables
- Households and families to purchase a solar system (Solar Home Systems) and corresponding consumer appliances such as: lighting, mobile phone chargers, fans, small tools, TV’s and radios
- the creation of jobs and the development of a local solar trade
- sustainable social and economic development in developing countries
Even with the minimum share of 2,000 euros you can – depending on the size – enable up to 15 households to purchase a solar system. And not just once, but continuously! Because as soon as a solar system is paid off, your capital will be used to finance further solar systems.
The investment in Solar-Connect eG represents an economic investment that is associated with specific risks. These are based, for example, on political instability, currency risks or payment defaults. At Solar-Connect eG we have taken numerous precautions to minimise the business risk (internal control, diversification across various partner countries, creation of reserves). We consider the targeted selection of partners as essential as part of a professional economic review before we commence business with them. However, there is no absolute certainty, in the worst case your invested capital may be lost. After five years of operations, there have been no total losses so far (as of 12/2019).
To reduce risk, we are striving to split our client portfolio into 60% A clients, 30% B clients and 10% C clients. Our A-clients have good credit ratings or alternatively secure their trading activities with good guarantees. We deliberately avoid bank guarantees. For our B customers, the guarantees to be provided may be of lower quality. In exceptional cases, we sometimes waive guarantees if there is already a long-term business relationship based on trust. We deliberately take a higher risk with C customers. They are mostly young start-ups that cannot provide any reliable guarantees. However, we require first-class references from all our customers, e.g. from their suppliers or business partners.
Yes. If you wish to cancel your membership, you have two options:
- You can cancel your membership by giving two years notice to the end of the year
- You immediately transfer your shares to another person, who then becomes a member (e.g. by selling them)