We had the good fortune of connecting with Mickael Pourteau and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mickael, how does your business help the community?
Takatso is a multidisciplinary engineering and project management enterprise founded in 2018 in South Africa. The company provides interventions in access to water, energy and food thanks to its tailored engineering solutions approach.
Takatso’s mission is to provide safe drinkable water, energy and food to people living next to a water source (boreholes, lakes, dams, rivers, seas, estuaries & oceans) and do not have access to it. The solution also applies when a rapid hydric stress situation occurs to respond to an urgent need on site.
As a multifaceted enterprise, we tackle problems around three critical areas that are currently disregarded by a greater part of the private sector and neglected by public institutions.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), two six and seven, build the water-energy-food nexus. With this in mind, Takatso’s engineered and designed proposals are the most credible and efficient alternatives to supply access to drinkable water but also to tailored water quality required in some segments such as Agriculture, Mining and other industries.
What should our readers know about your business?
The ideas and reasons behind Takatso’s creation and developments are numerous. It all started in 2018, while I was spending days in a row travelling throughout South Africa. Indeed, driving kms on kms through different South African provinces such as Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Eastern and Western Cape, I could only realise how dry the country is, how difficult it is for communities to obtain primary vital needs such as water, food and energy. I could also only realise that the country was lacking quality infrastructures to answers these vital needs.
Finally, as a French citizen, I could only be aghast to be also impacted by the repetitive droughts and power outages.
In order to answer these problems with the solutions, we decided to spend 3 years of research & development, which started in my backyard. We literally started by creating products at 1/15th of its real intended sizes in order to approve the technology sets we were using. We then spent days and nights improving, changing, failing, restarting, etc, until we matched our expectations and dreams with a standard product.
Our company approach is to supply a set of systems that are all-in-one fully autonomous and self-sustainable units using solar energy and/or wind power to supply the required water quality, through brackish or seawater purification. We decided to use this angle in order to be the most affordable possible, which was key if we desired to answer the needs of the most disadvantaged communities. We are extremely proud to achieve this objective, with a great effort from our engineering team, which managed to take our solutions costs down by 40% in three years.
All systems are supplied as a containerized complete package with all the unit process components as an out of the box plug and play system. This enables us to intervene with our solutions in disaster zones where required. On the basis that the water rarefaction issue is attended to, with Takatso’s designs or if a source of quality water is available, our company provides solar solutions, which will assist and facilitate public and private sectors switch to renewable energies. Takatso engineers and designs smart farming solutions paired with our water solutions or if a source of quality water is available.
The last three years have been an intense rollercoaster! Most of the team had to combine Takatso’s activities with a corporate job, cash-flow has also been a real headache and we exclusively relied on our own financials to grow the business. Lastly, the biggest challenge so far has been human resources, which fortunately is currently being resolved with new passionate comers into the business.
We are here to serve people in despair of water, wherever they are located, as long as there is a road or direct access. We do not have the vainglory to solve big cities water, energy and food problems, but we are fully committed to assist any public or private sectors that are not of the interests of hefty organisations.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Living in South Africa is already a dream for me, so having my best friend visiting me is clearly a MUST.
The country has so much to offer, from oceans to mountains, from deserts to mountain skiing resort (yes, it is no joke, AfriSki, located in the Drakensberg-Maluti Mountains, some 3,222 metres (10,570 feet) above sea level), from jungles to the bush, from big cities to tiny tribal villages…
Over a week, I would definitely recommend visiting Cape Town for at least three days to enjoy hiking on the Table Mountain, swimming at Camps Bay or Clifton beaches, wine-tasting some of the best wine in the world in Stellenbosch or Franschhoek. The second part of the trip would be in the Kruger National Park to experience the best safaris in the region and spend a couple of nights in one of the marvellous lodges inside the park. One of my highest joy since we have created Takatso, is to be fortunate enough of having collaborated with the park to install and commission our first Proof of Concept. We have installed a 10 000 litres water purification plant in a ranger camp, which never had drinkable water since the creation of the camp in 1975.
Finally, I would end the week by two days of scuba diving in Sodwana Bay, one of the most magical place in South Africa.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The success of a company does not only come from a single person. This is the fruit of a massive team effort including numerous sleepless nights. Since the start of the venture, I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by the best team ever.
I would like to dedicate this shoutout in particular to Pierre-Yves, my business partner right from the start, Munashe, who brought his passion and dedication to the cause. I would like also like to mention Geoffray, who, despite being at 10 000km away from the venture, has always been backing the team up and to finish, a special word to Margaux for her creativity and flexibility. If I had one single word to define them all, I would immediately think of “Talented”.
I have been fortuitous to be able to rely on my family and friends to help me steering the venture, by always keeping me on my toes thanks to their different background and horizons.
To them all, THANK YOU.