A loan of $3,350 helped a member to pay for home solar lighting systems.

Namasmitane Group's story

Energy Poverty keeps ~20% of the world’s population living in the dark, lighting their homes with dirty, dangerous and expensive fuels like kerosene.

In the small Pacific island state of Vanuatu, Village Infrastructure Angels (VIA) along with its partners, have spent years helping households buy small solar lights. Distributed through cooperatives and women’s groups and sold for the same cost as a few months of kerosene, the lights have allowed work to continue beyond sunset. Families can keep businesses running and children can study while the health risks of breathing in kerosene fumes or getting burnt are no longer creating worry. VIA field partners have sold more than 10,000 of these solar lights and have been a part of eradicating kerosene from close to 50% of the entire country.

VIA customers are now looking to invest in bigger energy systems, energy enough to charge their mobile phones, radios and offer multiple lighting points for their homes. These household lighting kits offer more than three times the power of the single lights that households have been able to buy for cash upfront and households would have the option to pay off their system weekly, for only the cost of kerosene and mobile phone charging. Along with its partners, VIA sources the technology, installs this for villagers and collects the weekly payments.

VIA projects on the island of Tanna also operate on an innovative "charging station" model where the solar panels are housed in a central location such as a school or church and households visit the charging station weekly to deposit money for the loan and change their used battery for a fully charged battery. This reduces the cost of loan collection and also serves as a point for people to have repairs done, if required. As part of this model, new jobs are created in each community to operate these charging stations.

This specific loan is for members of the Namasmitane tribe, on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu. Namasmitane is a very well-known tribe on Tanna island. It is one of the largest tribes in terms of population and the center of Kustom practices (ancient religious and cultural practices). The Namasmitane tribe is also the proud home of the RTC, or the rural training center for the northern half of the island where people learn skills such as carpentry. Therefore, many people come to this tribe when they would like a new building erected.

Lighting is very important for the many people of this tribe. Light allows women to work after dark, craftsmen to generate more income, children to study and stores to stay open. Currently, people in the village have to rely on "fire sticks", torches and kerosene after dark which can be a dangerous fire hazard and hard on developing eyes and lungs.

We often take light for granted in our developed countries, but the villages we work in often tell us "it's the most beautiful thing they've seen", "we can now work safely at night" or "we stayed up all night just looking at it". Lighting makes a tangible and very important difference to their daily lives in terms of safety, productivity, education and much more.

Your loan will be a big step in making this a reality for this tribe!

In this group: Naiu, Kapiap, Lume, Naiu, Kavil, Sam, Isac, Iawilum, Namat, Niau, Namus, Iawiap, Betary, Iata, Tao*, Tao*, Madlen*
*not pictured

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