African Entrerpreneur Making Wooden Outlet Strips
January 27th, 2012
Here in the U.S. and in much of the Western world, we take many of the little things for granted. For instance, if you want a power strip, you just head down to your local Best Buy or other mega-chain store and buy one. But in some parts of the world, even relatively small stuff like that is out of the reach of many households and neighborhood businesses.
While it’s an unusual concept, it’s not a surprise that one young entrepreneur in the Kiandutu slums of Kenya has decided to build his own power strips. Amos Njoroge really wanted to be a professional an electrical engineer, but lacked the resources to go to school and earn a degree. Instead, he decided to take his self-taught skills and set up a small assembly line where he churns out wooden power strips that he sells in his neighborhood. I love how he calls his tiny start-up “Gigantic Electronics.” Think big, Amos. Think, big.
Like me, your first reaction was probably that a wooden outlet strip is probably not the safest way to distribute electricity – especially in damp environments. But as long as it remains dry, wood is nearly as good of an insulator as plastic or ceramic, so I don’t think it’s dramatically more of a shock hazard. They are painting them with something in the video, so that might help seal out the moisture too. On the other hand, my scientific instincts tell me a wood outlet strip is way more of a fire risk than a plastic one, but that’s just me.
On the other hand, this self-taught skill and spirit of ingenuity is helping Njoroge and his co-workers make a living in one of the poorest parts of the world, while at the same time providing his community with a product that’s in demand. Hopefully, any fears about safety will be unwarranted, and Amos will continue to see success in his budding endeavor.