UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — For many, the idea of being one’s own boss is appealing — you can make your hours, run the business and see to it that your vision is being carried forward.
Tony B. Adesina, a 2008 Penn State industrial engineering alumnus, took these ideas to heart when he approached his business partner, Agenor J. Jean-Louis, also a 2008 industrial engineering alumnus, and launched their five green energy businesses in Rwanda, Africa.
Adesina, co-founder of GURARIDE, SAFIRIDE, SAFIRUN, EVPLUGIN and Safi Universal Link (SUL), began his journey to entrepreneurship as an undergraduate engineering student with interests in multiple engineering disciplines and a flair for business. He found industrial engineering best combined his interests and challenged him.
“When you’re in your industrial engineering classes, you’ll ask yourself ‘will I ever use this?’” Adesina said. “You always use it because everything you’ll learn in industrial engineering is useful for both life and business. I still see my education being used in our day-to-day operations today. I smile when I think about it; it takes me back to Penn State and the Leonhard Building.”
Toward a greener future
Adesina classifies himself as a serial entrepreneur. His interests lie within transit system solutions via green electric mobility (e-mobility) transport systems in Africa.
He explained that he is committed to the sustainability of green transport in Africa to help cities reduce carbon emission, pollution and make getting from point A to B more convenient and affordable.
“I always had a dream of going back home to Africa,” Adesina said. “My entrepreneurship journey began in Nigeria, my home country, after graduating from Penn State. My passion for electric mobility and reducing pollution in our environment led me to Rwanda, which was the perfect place to start. There is such room for growth in Rwanda and their pro-green agenda was excellent for e-mobility. I don’t need to lobby for green transport here; that vision has already been around for a long time.”
According to Green Growth Knowledge Platform, the Rwanda Vision 2020 explains how the Rwandan government aims to transform the country into a middle-income nation where people are healthier, educated and more prosperous. A part of this plan is to make personal travel, accessibility and public transport easier on its citizens.
With this plan comes the idea of green transportation — Adesina’s ticket to a cleaner future. Through his business ventures, he is helping to not only create cleaner ways to move, but he is also generating unique job opportunities through capacity building and developing programs focusing on women empowerment.
Adesina and Jean-Louis began working in Rwanda in 2017 by initially creating GURARIDE and SAFIRIDE. Though both companies offer convenient green transport services, their approaches are different.
GURARIDE is a public bike-share transport system company committed to the sustainability of micro-mobility in Africa. GURARIDE offers smart bikes, electric scooters and electric bikes from its app to enable users to choose their ride preference. Users simply pick up their choice of bike and drop it off at the next charging station.