Gration works for Watu na Nuru, a Barefoot Power retailer in Tanzania. This is his story: I began working for the Diocese of Lweru in 2012 as Development Officer and have recently had the opportunity to begin a solar lighting retail business, working with my colleague from Switzerland, Daeni (on the left in the picture). This is an exciting new project where I can use my previous development project experience to build up the business. The current electricity supply does not reach every part of the country; this is especially true for rural areas. Solar lights prevent people from using kerosene lights, which are dangerous and very unhealthy. The main impacts of using solar lighting are that people save money by not using kerosene, charging their phones, and keeping their shops open in the evening; students and pupils are able to study more in the evening; and people reduce damage to their lungs and reduce the risk of burning themselves and their houses. The distribution of Barefoot Power products will benefit the community and Tanzanians as a whole by giving a reliable and sustainable source of light and, by providing this light source, helping to fight the three national enemies, which are limited education, disease, and poverty. We plan to distribute Barefoot Power products to micro-entrepreneurs and small businesses who want to sell them in villages and also train new staff and provide employment locally as the business grows.
Watu na Nuru, which means “Light for the People” in Swahili, is the name of a growing collection of businesses established with the support of the Anglican Church of Tanzania, with the aim of making high-quality, affordable solar lighting kits available to rural communities. Watu na Nuru needs to have sufficient quantities of the right products at the best time of year, which in this area is when the coffee harvest is in. 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 will provide training and technical support to retailers and micro-entrepreneurs because we want to ensure that these lights continue working for years. My greatest challenge in this role is ensuring that the products are available at the right time of year. Your loan will support our stock so that more village entrepreneurs can sell these lighting solutions. My favourite part of the job is to advertise and teach how to use solar lamps.
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.