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Get to Know: Timo Schäfer

EWIA founder and CFO Timo SchäferWho are the people behind EWIA Green Investments? What drives them, what is important to them? Today, co-founder and CFO Timo Schäfer introduces himself in an interview and explains what it means to him to be an entrepreneur, why he would not call himself an "Africa expert" and why the dishwasher was an epoch-making invention.

Hello Timo! How and why did you become an entrepreneur?I grew up in a family business, which was successfully run by the third generation until both my parents sold it a few years ago. That means I didn't know anything else for a long time. The fact that there is also something like a division into a working life from 08:00 to 17:00 and a private life during the rest of the time was not familiar to me for a long time. Entrepreneurship was therefore in my blood, so to speak, but it took a few years until the right constellation of people and business purpose came together. 

Is EWIA your first foundation?Yes, after many ideas failed on paper in the planning phase. For me, being an entrepreneur means creating something meaningful 365 days a year and bearing responsibility for people, the environment and investors. With such a personal commitment, the question of meaning is considerable and EWIA answers it: global CO2 reduction and local enhancement of individual quality of life on the Africa continent of opportunity. For me, being an entrepreneur means leading with values and creating something new, something better, which did not exist before. That is why I became a founder and entrepreneur.

What problem would you like to solve first and foremost with your company?I can't save the world with EWIA, but I can make it a bit more liveable for many people every day. The fascinating thing about our business model is the three-fold benefit: Ecology, Social and Economy are inseparably united in our business model and are mutually dependent. Let's argue from the customer's point of view. Our product saves costs for our customer, besides it saves CO2 through clean electricity production (no fossil grid electricity or diesel power). In addition, the local, medium-sized company becomes more competitive and can offer more employment and higher salaries. Therefore, I have a satisfied customer who is happy to pay his monthly bill. For us and our investors, this means not only an economic but also an ecological and social return.

You are focused on Africa and your passion for Africa is hard to miss. What is it about Africa that excites you so much?I have visited several African countries in my life. However, just as there is no such thing as the "dolce vita" of Italy or the supposed German punctuality in Europe, there is no such thing as the continent of Africa. I got to know Africa as a consultant in the service of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). In Ethiopia in 2010, I was fascinated by the friendliness of the people and the extreme poverty in the countryside. In the same year, I travelled to Uganda. Now I had my "Africa image" of Ethiopia firmly anchored in my head and in Kampala I encountered a completely different culture and a modern nightlife that I knew more from the music clubs of Rimini.In 2011, I set foot on West African soil for the first time in Ghana. My first impression was: "What a colourful, bright and loud country!" Ghanaians love loud music, but over which I struggle to hold a conversation. What unites all these countries, however, is the young society and the challenge that comes with such an age pyramid. Quite similar to the retirement home of Germany, but in reverse; our skilled workers are retired and the young African countries lack skilled workers, knowledge and experience. However, this challenge is met with what I find a fascinating lightness and a talent for improvisation that I can only wish for in Germany.

What can Europe learn from Africa?Improvisation, serenity, cheerfulness and living in the here and now. I have been living in Ghana again since 2021 and have the opportunity to look at Germany with a certain distance. I am often surprised at how stubbornly we cling to old technologies out of fear, even though science shows us the dawn. For example, I would like to see more of a spirit of optimism when it comes to shutting down nuclear reactors. After all, if rich Germany can't manage the turnaround to renewable energies, which country will? We can learn courage and curiosity to create something new - as I have come to know Ghana and what I appreciate so much about this country.

If you were not working at EWIA, where would you work?I would probably be working in sustainability management/controlling in a corporate holding company and privately be involved with the countries of Africa. Therefore, I am very happy with EWIA: to be able to live a life where I can combine my professional and private life with the extremely meaningful activity of financing renewable energies and thus counteracting climate change. 

Do you have role models in the broadest sense?Role models in the broadest sense are all those family entrepreneurs who do not base their corporate strategy on their own needs, but on the needs of the next generation and the generation after that. A good example is Schrauben-Würth from Schwäbisch Gmünd.

What do you consider to be the most important invention of mankind?It's hard to say. I think the washing machine and the dishwasher were decisive milestones of our Western civilisation. Because through these inventions, the emancipation of women took a decisive step forward.

Which book has had the greatest impact on you and which is the last book you read?As is so often the case in life, it is not the individual experience or book that is decisive, but the experiences or books and the people with whom we share and controversially discuss the books and experiences.One of my most recent books is " Born a Crime" by Trevor Noah. In this book, Trevor Noah tells his own story against the background of the apartheid regime in South Africa. The comedy talent manages to portray the crimes of the regime with a lightness that is second to none. 

If you had one wish, for example from a fairy godmother? What would it be?To stay healthy, because without health everything else is nothing. 

And where do we often meet you at the weekend?In nature, mountain biking or hiking in the mountains.


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