Andy works for Watu na Nuru, a Barefoot Power distributor in Tanzania. This is his story:
I have been working in Tanzania with my wife for four years now, and I have been using my previous project management experience to help in the development of new projects in this rural part of Tanzania. We have a son living in Sweden and a daughter back in Australia. The very limited access to electricity supply, especially in remote areas such as Kagera, means that solar lighting presents opportunities for people to study and work in the evenings, helping to reduce poverty. They also avoid the need to use dangerous kerosene lamps, reducing costs, improving health and reducing the risk of fires. A large part of my work for the Anglican Church over the last year was starting a retail business to sell solar lights locally and distribute them to micro-entrepreneurs and small businesses who want to sell them in villages. We have also trained new staff and provided employment locally and aim to develop a self-sustaining enterprise.
Watu na Nuru needs to have sufficient quantities of the right products at the best time of year (when farmers bring in their harvest). We need funds to ensure product is available when people are ready to buy it. We have developed a partnership with Barefoot Power Australia, who make what we believe are the best micro-solar systems on the market. When we are not selling product, we provide training and technical support to retailers and micro-entrepreneurs because we want to ensure these lights continue working for years. My greatest challenge in this role is maintaining supply lines to the remote areas in a region the size of Rwanda. Your loan will support our stock so that more village entrepreneurs can sell these lighting solutions. My favourite part of this job is hearing our customers tell us what a huge difference solar has made in their lives!
Because Barefoot Power’s core business is not microfinance, there is some level of additional risk for lenders. Kiva’s partnership with the company is unique and unprecedented. For this reason, Kiva has not assigned the organization a risk rating.
Barefoot Power is a for-profit social enterprise dedicated to bringing solar lighting solutions to remote, low-income regions. The company offers Kiva-funded loans to its distributors and retailers to buy supplies, open stores, and sell high-quality, affordable lighting products to consumers in underserved communities. Access to renewable lighting reduces use of pricey, dangerous kerosene, and significantly improves household productivity and income potential.