Leader Profile

Marketing for the clean energy transition

February 2024 | Precious Vuma, Business Development and Marketing Manager at Powerlive

Precious is the Business Development and Marketing Manager at Powerlive

Precious Vuma’s first contact with the clean energy sector came when she started working at Powerlive Zimbabwe four years ago. “That was a cornerstone in my life”, she explains. “I still remember the job interview; it was an all-women panel. They did not only ask about my proficiency, but the focus was also very much on me as a person and my aspirations. I realised this was a place where I could learn and grow in my position”, Precious recalls. She has worked in male-dominated sectors for many years and feels that women as leaders tend to be more nurturing. “I was seen as a human being and given grace if I made mistakes. I’m encouraged to not just be content with what I am, but to learn, pursue, grow, and do better. The women here have been monumental in how I perceive myself and life in general.”

Powerlive is a local, women-led company that provides clean, safe, and affordable solar energy solutions to women and their communities in Zimbabwe. The company also distributes productive use appliances such as solar pumps, hair clippers, radios, and televisions. It has operations in 35 districts and provides energy access to over 16,000 people.

You can hear the passion when Precious talks about her work. She is committed to empowering women and making an impact in rural communities.

I feel my work has a meaning; it has an impact on other people’s lives. When a woman buys a solar pump, it helps her to water her garden and get vegetables to the market, she can contribute to the household, and she can educate her children. When you help other women to realise they can do better for themselves, it gives you deep satisfaction.

The ambitions stem from all the positive female influence she has received when working for Powerlive. “The more positive influence of women that you see in your life, the more you also want to become a positive influencer for other women. It is a positive cycle that keeps giving back. I really feel passionate about women helping women.”

Precious Vuma grew up in Bulawayo, the second largest city in Zimbabwe. She remembers visiting her grandmother in the rural areas when she was a child. “There was no tap water or electricity. We used candles. It felt fine because it was temporary for us. When growing up, I realised that for other people that was every day, part of normal life.” She notes that the living conditions have not changed that much since then. “There is still not basic lighting or access to running water. People use candles, which are not good for the indoor air quality and are expensive in the long run. Many are skeptical towards solar solutions as there were some cheap, low-quality solar lights available earlier.”

As the Business Development and Marketing Manager at Powerlive, Precious strongly believes marketing can play a key role in leading the clean energy transition.

Marketing is a great tool to dispose misconceptions that communities have towards solar products. We are able to promote high-quality products that have warranties and guarantees in place. We are able to communicate the benefits of clean energy so that the community and the people can be excited about it and want to adopt it.

She explains that people are more likely to choose clean options when you raise awareness about the health and environment issues.

Marketing has also enabled energy companies like Powerlive to meet with NGOs, investors, and other stakeholders to exchange ideas, share best practices and to foster innovation within the industry.

Powerlive’s marketing efforts have been recognised by Marketers Association of Zimbabwe several years in a row. When asked how she achieved this, Precious remains humble, explaining “This is a team effort. I have a great team that is working very hard. It is usually the bigger companies that get the awards, so for a start-up this is huge.”

Part of Precious’ success could be her commitment to lifelong learning. At the age of 29, Precious has a master’s in international business, bachelor’s in business science, marketing and management, and certificates in digital marketing and project monitoring and evaluation. She also has a diploma in project management, public relations, and corporate reputation. At the moment she is studying Chartered Marketing to become a Marketing Consultant.

My 10+ year plan is to be a marketing consultant for the SMEs. I see how they struggle with budgetary boundaries so I would like to help them to do better.

Helping others has been close to her heart since she was a little girl. She first wanted to be a surgeon, then a lawyer and then a psychologist. “My father has always encouraged me and my little sisters to reach for the stars. He has guided and supported us to find our roles, and to have the courage to put ourselves out there in the world. He has always worked hard and showed an example to us. He is my role model and supporter.”

When asked about what her ambitions in the coming years are, Precious replies that she want to drive the transformative change in the clean energy sector. She wants Powerlive to be THE energy company in Zimbabwe.

Today people talk about Zesa when referring to the electricity company. I want Powerlive to be the new Zesa. When people are talking about energy, when people are talking about clean energy, when people are talking about solar energy, I want them to refer to Powerlive.

Precious was selected as EEP Africa’s 2023 Rising Energy Leader. To others who are looking to find their career, she recommends to “find your passion and combine it with your aspirations, in that way you actually enjoy going to work.” For women in the clean energy sector, she has three tips: “Firstly, stay informed about what is happening in the world. How will it impact your product, your customers or your company? Mitigate any negative impacts and take advantage of any opportunities that may arise. Secondly, stay in touch with your customers and listen to what challenges they face so that you are able to develop your product to match their needs. And lastly, if you are looking for entrepreneurship, there is a lot of potential within the clean energy sector. By observing what challenges people are facing, you will be able to come up with better products and solutions for the communities.”