Powering forward with green kiosks

Thinking Green designs and builds green kiosks that are self-sustaining in terms of electricity and water.Thinking Green designs and builds green kiosks that are self-sustaining in terms of electricity and water.

By S.G. Ang

The young man sitting across me embodies the new Malaysia. Still in his 20s, he has visions of creating something exciting and innovative that will not only reap the financial rewards of a successful business venture but one that will also go a long way in protecting the environment.

Marwan Ma’som got his pilot’s license at the age of 19 and is an aeronautical engineer by training. Flying is his passion but so is safeguarding the environment.

While still in his teens he was an active member of the Junior Environmental Group of Malaysia, but now at 27, he would like to marry his desire to be an innovator with his passion for protecting the environment.

While chowing down on soft, fluffy pancakes, he says between bites: “When I was growing up I knew I couldn’t change the world but I figured I could make still make a positive contribution.

“I like watching the television show, The Walking Dead. I like the idea that even if civilisation came to an end today, I can still charge my IPod with solar power,” says Marwan.

To this end, the young man founded Thinking Green, a company that designs and builds green kiosks that are self-sustaining in terms of electricity and water.

The company’s official website states that it specialises in designing products, “particularly in the field of microarchitecture, that are consistent with modern urban design principles” and integrate green technology with aesthetic appeal.

Marwan, who is the Chief Executive Officer of the company, talks about the need for green technology and uses the power outage in Kuching, Sarawak last June as an example.

“Many parts of the town were in darkness and one of the few things that was lit and working was our green kiosks. They were fully charged.”

Marwan says that he hopes his kiosks would help turn our illegal street food culture into one that is legal, aesthetically appealing and powered by nature.

“Currently, a vast majority of our hawkers in Malaysia are operating without licences because they do not meet the necessary local council requirements.

“Many hawkers operate in conditions that can be considered unhygienic and they also tend to steal power to operate their stalls, thereby rendering their businesses illegal.

“With the green kiosks many of these problems can be solved. Our kiosks are aesthetically appealing and more importantly, they are powered by solar energy.

“There is no need to steal power and therefore hawkers are eligible to apply for licences from the town or city councils,” explains Marwan.

He adds that his solar-powered kiosk is made from fully recycled materials and come with its own rainwater harvesting system to provide clean water for washing purposes.

“Our focus now is to work with local councils to help hawkers get their operating licence as we want to help them to change the way they do business.

“We want tradition businesses like the burger stall to be housed in green and clean kiosks that would be attractive to customers,” he says.

Green kiosks to be offered free-of-charge

What is surprising about Marwan’s business plan is that the green kiosks will be offered to hawkers and other interested parties, free-of-charge. Yes, absolutely free: they need not buy or rent the kiosks. They also need not pay for electricity as it will be solar powered.

“We own the kiosks and we will take care of it. The kiosks will be maintained by my company as we want them to remain clean and function as they are meant to. The solar panels require special upkeep and so we will maintain it for the business owners. There will be no added costs to the business owner.

“We will also provide free WiFi so that the kiosks can be used as a hotspot by customers waiting to be served,” explains Marwan, who is keen to help create independent small businesses.

He says the green kiosk is ideal for startup businesses that cannot afford the high rentals in shopping centres or malls.

This idea is so interesting and innovative that I can’t help but ask: “So what is the catch?”

If it is free, i.e. with no hidden costs and would be maintained regularly, again at no cost to the peddler, how was the young man proposing to make money?

“Advertising,” says Marwan cheekily.

“We will sell advertising space so that the kiosks will resemble street billboards.

“Our goal is to create a win-win situation. We want to enable new businesses to flourish with no hidden costs while we earn our income from advertising.”

Thinking Green currently is working towards getting local councils excited about the possibility of having hawker stalls that are pleasing to the eye and that are self-powered (pic).

The kiosks will have a uniformed look and will utilise green technology making them ideal for all sorts of small businesses, from street food vendors to phone operators.

Last year, the company deployed two green kiosks in Cyberjaya on a trial basis with the assistance of the city council.

“Both kiosks were used for F&B purposes. The operators used to conduct their business without a licence. Now, they have licences and they are making money with very little overheads involved. Their food business has also become very hygienic.

“What this simply means is that the businessman is happy and so is the local council,” relates Marwan.

Nonetheless, Marwan says interest in his green kiosks is still lagging.

“I wish local authorities would be more supportive of this initiative as everyone stands to gain.

“I would like to think that this is a ‘no risk’ venture. We also know that we are helping create jobs for individuals who may not find the office environment suitable for them. This is ideal for the person who wants to be his own boss.”

Marwan says that his business model can work anywhere in the region as South East Asia is home to a vibrant street food culture.

In his mind he can envision his kiosks gracing the haphazard streets of Ho Chi Minh, Bangkok, Jakarta, etc.

But for the now, he would settle for more of his kiosks popping up along the streets of Kuala Lumpur.

For more information, visit Thinking Green’s website.

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