Habiba works for SOSAI Renewable Energies, a Barefoot Power distributor in Nigeria.
This is her story:
SOSAI Renewable Energies Company is a registered company in Nigeria working as a social enterprise targeting the people at the bottom of the pyramid. The organization works to offer reliable, efficient, and affordable technologies to households to improve their livelihoods.
Work in this sector began at SOSAI in 2010. The organisation had existed as a fully commercial company before this, but now we operate as a social enterprise.
SOSAI was set up by Habiba, who is a founder, and who had worked for Developmental Association for Renewable Energies (DARE), where she had got the opportunity to carry out exhibitions and workshops for people in rural areas and urban slums highlighting the benefits of renewable energies. Because DARE is an NGO sales were limited by DARE, so Habiba decided to branch out to revive SOSAI. With benefitting people at the forefront, running this organisation as a social enterprise was paramount.
The idea behind the project of creating micro-enterprise by providing solar lighting is to empower small entrepreneurs who can penetrate more communities by giving them the opportunity to buy products and pay for them in installments, with an agreed upon plan and model. This will develop micro-enterprise, especially for women, while ensuring that a large number of people get all-important lighting into their homes, at the same time empowering more by giving them a means of livelihood. With the high number of households not connected to the grid--despite its rich energy resources--Nigeria is a fertile ground to grow this business as in the past 10 years (in spite of the government's promises) the power sector has only worsened with more power cuts and fewer people being connected to the grid.
According to the WHO 1.6 million deaths occur yearly from indoor air pollution; this project will in the long run reduce green-house gas emissions while improving maternal health and ensuring basic education as longer study hours will be ensured.
Benefits accruable to using Solar Home Systems as provided by Barefoot Power are immense, but the most important reason for SOSAI undertaking this comes from a personal experience Habiba has had with kerosene lamps while assisting her mother who owned a "Bukka," a term used to describe a small eatery, where they worked till late at night using kerosene lamps. Her mother currently has an eye problem because of the exposure to indoor air pollution and Habiba herself wears glasses. What better drive to promote a cleaner source of lighting than personal experience?
The business model will be fully developed to include training for the business owners and training of technical staff that will ensure the warranty Barefoot Power prides itself in.
This loan will enable SOSAI to better promote this sales model and move deeper into the rural areas especially to give the organization the strength to be able to fall back and take on the steam at any time.
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.