Jonathan Morgenstein, Founder & CEO at Empowerment Solar
Class of 2015>>
I'm a tree-hugger at heart, and I have always worked to try to improve conditions for people across the world. Since I graduated from college I have worked to help displaced persons and the victims of conflict in Latin America, the Balkans, the Middle East, and Africa. As a Democracy and Human Rights Consultant I have advised governments, think tanks and NGOs on national security policy, democracy development, human rights and security sector reform.
In 2004, I was stationed as a Civil Affairs Officer with the U.S. Marine Corps in Iraq, where I was responsible for rebuilding one-third of Ramadi, the capital of Al-Anbar province. When insurgents sabotaged the high voltage power lines that provided 100% of the city’s electricity, it sparked crime, violence, and even widespread thirst and sickness because all the water pumps ran on electricity. This event profoundly changed my perspective on how electricity should be produced and delivered to a community.
When I came back to the U.S., over the next decade, I began learning about solar energy. Both how it can be used to improve lives, particularly in the developing world, and how to actually design and install complete systems. I eventually decided that I wanted to start my own solar installation business in the Middle East to tangibly improve people’s lives through clean, reliable, and inexpensive solar energy. However, I knew that I needed to acquire the financial and business management knowledge necessary to bring my dream to fruition. So with the help of a U.S. Government veterans’ scholarship (the “G.I. Bill”), I enrolled in the Sofaer International MBA at Tel Aviv University in Israel.
From our collective experience, my brother David and I knew a tremendous amount about the challenges of solar energy generation in the Middle East. We were of course also aware of the region’s "endless" amount of sun. So after the MBA, we launched Empowerment Solar to provide distributed solar electricity to businesses and homes in the West Bank.
The knowledge I acquired during the Sofaer MBA, together with my experience in the Marine Corps, and my passion for entrepreneurship, has enable me to build Empowerment Solar and develop the community required to bring distributed solar electricity to the West Bank, thereby improving people's lives. In the future, we hope to expand our efforts throughout the Middle East.