STG International's Matthew Orosz brings sustainable and affordable solar power to Africa, engaging locals on every step from design to retail of the product.
“Technical and logistical difficulties are a perennial concern, but the human factor in teamwork, partnerships, and the overall business and institutional framework are the ultimate arbiters of success or failure.”
"‘That’s a nice hobby, but what are you going to do for a real job?’" Matthew Orosz laughs, when describing how people react to his work. After the Peace Corp, his experience living with limited access to electricity led Matthew to MIT, where he joined fellow engineering students in developing an affordable, off-grid solution to solar power for Africa. Using readily available materials, they found a way to capture energy by employing the sun’s heat instead of its rays. The result is a sustainable and affordable source of electricity, hot water, and refrigeration that can adapt to myriad environments and materials.
“I try to balance encouragement with the reality that working to solve longstanding problems, especially in international development, requires long term commitment, an open mind, and the ability to pick yourself up and press on in the face of repeated frustrations,” Matthew says of his role as President and Director at STG International. “It’s not for everyone, but it can be extremely rewarding.”
STG International works with individuals in the communities they serve so that the manufacture, sale, and maintenance of the solar power systems promotes lasting local economic development. Matthew points out a traditional and problematic distance between scientific communities and the issues they hope to address “Its true that social connectedness is developing at a rapid pace — however, awareness of the root causes of poverty and systematic approaches that can succeed in reducing it spreads at a much slower pace.”
Matthew is more optimistic than not, reveling in the progress that collaboration engenders. “Technical and logistical difficulties are a perennial concern, but the human factor in teamwork, partnerships, and the overall business and institutional framework are the ultimate arbiters of success or failure,” he says. “When you work with competent, diligent, trustworthy people there is nothing you can't solve.”