This Local NGO Is Helping B40 Students Kickstart Their Career In The Solar Industry

Those in the Solar Academy go through a year-long programme, which includes a daily allowance.

Cover image via SOLS Foundation

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Meet Nafili, a 21-year-old who hails from an Orang Asli village in Gua Musang, Kelantan

Image via SOLS Foundation

After dropping out of high school at the age of 15, Nafili's opportunities were limited. He was only able to earn RM700 to RM800 a month collecting and loading palm fruit, and the laborious work took a toll.

Nevertheless, things started to change for Nafili when he got a second chance through the SOLS Foundation Solar Academy scholarship.

The programme not only provided him with education, but also an opportunity to work in the solar industry. While his journey had its ups and downs, Nafili saw a gradual transformation as he ventured into practical training and personal development. Once shy and hesitant, Nafili now confidently interacts with clients and seeks professional advice on site, while learning to be resilient when facing challenges.

Nafili also makes almost three times more than he did before, and is able to contribute to his family financially. Speaking to SAYS, Nafili said that he hopes to save up for a motorcycle, rent a room, build an emergency fund, and contribute more to his family in the next two years.

This is just one of many impact stories from SOLS Foundation Solar Academy, which offers a year-long full scholarship programme for students from low-income families

Image via SOLS Foundation

SOLS Foundation, which used to be called SOLS 24/7, is a non-profit organisation that aims to serve and empower the B40 community with free education, personal development, and employment support.

The Solar Academy is one of SOLS Foundation's scholarship programmes that helps underserved students get a headstart in the solar industry. So far, over 600 students have completed the programme, most of which are from Orang Asli and Orang Asal communities.

Image via SOLS Foundation

How it works is that students will go through three months of classroom theory training, three months of on-the-job practical training, and six months of practical training in the solar industry.

The Solar Academy provides students with 100% free education, certification, food, allowance, and accommodation throughout the year-long programme.

What's cool is that those who successfully go through the programme will get certified and be offered a secure job placement in rooftop solar equipment installation, with a minimum monthly salary of RM1,500 to RM1,800.

For individuals like Fuad and Jeprin Rasdu, their time at the Solar Academy was not only a lifeline, but a stepping stone to greater things

Image via SOLS Foundation

"SOLS Foundation didn't just offer me a job, it nurtured dreams and aspirations," said Fuad, who is currently a Project Coordinator for the Green Impact Team.

Despite finding it hard to keep up with the physical demands of a solar panel installer, Fuad pressed on and explored an administrative role within another department. Now, he's part of the team that handles corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects like installing solar panels in off-grid areas.

Image via SOLS Foundation

As for Jeprin Rasdu, who has been with SOLS Foundation for 13 years, he rose through the ranks from a student all the way to becoming a manager at SOLS Energy, the organisation's home solar company.

"I started in SOLS as a student, then a trainer. Now, I'm at SOLS Energy as the Logistics Manager. SOLS has given me a lot of opportunities and development, even up till now," he shared.

Besides offering underserved students a chance at a new career, SOLS Foundation Solar Academy closes the loop by bringing solar energy to villages that Orang Asli and Orang Asal students come from

Image via SOLS Foundation

A lot of what the Solar Academy does is made possible thanks to generous contributions from the public and sponsors like UOB Malaysia.

These contributions not only go towards training students throughout the year-long programme, but also extend to fund the organisation's CSR efforts that impact communities and change lives. Ultimately, SOLS Foundation is extremely grateful for long-term donors and partners that allow them to continue making free education a reality for the B40 community.

SOLS Foundation Solar Academy is currently open for its 2024 intake, and interested individuals can apply by filling this form

Image via SOLS Foundation

Your application will be reviewed, and if shortlisted, you’ll be called for an interview. Slots for the 2024 intake are still available, so make sure you don't miss out on this amazing opportunity.

You can also donate to SOLS Foundation on their website or explore potential corporate partnerships by contacting them here.

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