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Fireside chat with Macdonald Chirara

Who is Macdonald?

I am the founder of Everlasting Technology, a social enterprise focusing on renewable energy innovations for last-mile communities in Africa. I was born in Zimbabwe but moved to New York, USA, for my undergraduate education. Everlasting Technology was a product of my heavy involvement in Science Fair programs in high school. Science fairs are a platform that allowed me to continue broadening my perspective and challenging myself to solve problems with no definite solutions. They empowered me to both serve my local community and contribute to protecting the environment. I am also involved in science and technology research and passionate about conservation projects. I also serve as a trustee for the UK-based non-profit Connected Planet Foundation, which provides opportunities for communities to learn about and connect with the natural world around them.

Tell us more about your role in Everlasting Technology.

Everlasting Technology is on a mission to create green communities by providing innovative renewable energy solutions and introducing technologies that positively impact a cleaner environment. As the CEO of the startup, I have been actively working on overseeing all aspects of the business, including hiring new employees, creating marketing strategies, and managing our finances. My goal is to make sure we’re always operating at peak performance so we can provide the best service to our customers. Building strategic partnerships and initiatives may not seem like a priority for a startup focused on validating an idea, but the truth is I have since realized that such initiatives are significantly facilitating the growth of the startup hence I’m shifting my efforts towards that.

What is the most difficult part of your job? But the most rewarding one?

Working as a young founder and entrepreneur can sometimes be an incredibly solitary pursuit. Although some of my time is spent meeting potential clients and partners or interacting remotely with my team who work across Zimbabwe, the day-to-day reality generally involves me, myself, and my laptop. While working alone gives me a great amount of freedom, I miss out on the social perks that a team working environment would provide. However, the most rewarding part is seeing the impact created by passionate young people in the team working and researching innovative waste-to-energy solutions to help communities reach goal 7 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which serve as a blueprint to ensuring access to clean and affordable energy.

Is there anything that you would change about your professional path?

There isn’t much I would like to change about my path as an entrepreneur because my experiences as a founder have shaped who I am today. I became a multi-dimensional thinker, which has helped keep me on my toes and able to see problems from several different perspectives. When I started, I didn’t have any experience in management, but I have managed to meet and network with amazing people from different backgrounds who I have learned a lot from.

What’s your key strategy for the development of your company?

My key strategy revolves around the customer experience. Everlasting Technology focuses on creating a positive impact on society by improving the quality of life for people; therefore, we focus on the value our products and services create for the end-users. Partnering is also one of my key strategies, focusing on the key relationships the business needs to build. I am always working on strategies to find, develop, and nurture key relationships with mutual benefits with different stakeholders.

What do you think about the next period of time, keeping in mind the pandemic and the new business climate? How will your industry be affected?

Definitely, the future of clean energy is inevitable worldwide. The science has always been clear, to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, emissions need to be reduced, and everyone should aim to reach net zero. To achieve this, we need to end our reliance on fossil fuels and invest in alternative sources of energy that are clean, accessible, affordable, sustainable, and reliable. Like most industries, the renewable energy sector was exposed from the onset of the pandemic; there were supply chain disruptions and delays in project implementation. The pandemic also threatened the potential for innovation in the renewable energy space as access to capital and revenue became scarce for business start-ups.

Please name a few technologies which have the greatest impact on your business.

Zoom, Asana, and Slack have definitely empowered us to collaborate effectively and work on different projects.

What books do you have on your nightstand?

I have an interesting mixed collection of books that I’m currently reading and eagerly hope to finish before the year ends (I can’t believe it’s just a few more days to 2023). So the top three are:

  • A Thousand Brains: A New Theory of Intelligence, this Jeff Hawkins’s book, explores a new theory about human intelligence.
  • Rework by Jason Fried is a radical book on how to rethink different aspects of life.
  • Burma Boy by Biyi Bandele is a historical fiction book about black African soldiers fighting in Burma during World War II.
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