Clive works for Umeme Popote, a Barefoot Power retailer in Tanzania. This is his story: I am a qualified accountant and entrepreneur who has lived in Tanzania for 17 years. I have a passion for starting businesses and act as an unpaid consultant for Umeme Popote. My Danish wife has worked in Tanzania for 12 years and together we run a life skills programme for young people (Training for Life). We have a calling to work with enthusiastic and exciting people and help them into business. I am also committed to seeing solar lighting as a key step to development here in Tanzania. The partners in Umeme Popote pictured from left to right in their new shop include, Felix (Manager), Clive, Kassim (Logistics, seated), Dotto (Technician) and Lydia (secretary/sales assistant), and collectively they have experience of running business and of solar products prior to working with Watu na Nuru. The business runs from a small shop in Moshi and soon plans to acquire a vehicle to take product into villages both around Kilimanjaro and in Maasailand.
Umeme Popote, which means “Light Everywhere” in Swahili, is the name of a retail business based in Moshi and supplied by Watu na Nuru – Solar (wholesale). The business was established in 2011 as a partnership for which I act as adviser. The aim of the business is to make high-quality, affordable solar lighting kits available to rural communities, especially those in Maasailand, where there is almost no grid electricity.
Umeme Popote needs an injection of funds to ensure the right products are available at the best time of year (when farmers bring in their harvest), which is when people are ready to buy them. We are one of the retailers supplied by Watu na Nuru – Solar, benefitting from the partnership developed with Barefoot Power Australia, who make what we believe are the best micro-solar systems on the market. My greatest challenges are letting people know the benefits waiting for them with solar products as well as the money they can save by not using kerosene and by being able to charge their mobile phones. My favourite part of the job is seeing people's reaction to getting good, reliable light in their homes as opposed to smelly kerosene.
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.