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Sunrise Kat

Ray of Sunshine: traders know their customers best

This week’s Ray of Sunshine focuses on the opinions of traders that the SolarAid research teams talk to in our baseline market research. Hear what traders in Mzimba district in Malawi think of the solar lights and what they think their customers will think too.

Customers will love them as this will reduce cost of buying kerosene.” Aurther Mhango, owner of Anthony Investment in Chimutu market, selling electricals, lighting, homeware and groceries.

Customers will be happy because this will reduce sicknesses in their homes. It is very effective compared to the candles or torches we use in our homes.” Abgel Hunga, owner of Nyirenda shop in Chimutu market, selling electricals, lighting and homeware.

It is because your product is reliable compared with paraffin; customers can strive to buy this lamp. We will run for the product for the price is reasonable enough compared to the other solar that are in stock now.” Harold Gwadani, working at Lacky Grocery in Ngomiyawo market, selling lighting and groceries.

The lamp looks durable and customers will definitely love to have them as they are  brighter than torches that are used in most of the homes in our area.” Jean Nkhata, owner of Spin Grocery in Chimutu market, selling electricals, lighting and groceries.

The lamp is a great one as it doesn’t demand a lot, it just needs placing in the sun then it will light the house during the night so customers will be relieved of buying kerosene.” Mavuto Shaba, owner of Nyirongo Investment in Chimutu market, selling electricals, lighting and homeware.

We are complaining of kerosene scarcity so this will save them from staying in black out homes.” Yohane Banda owner of Mike Grocery in Chasato market, selling electricals, lighting and maize.

It is cost effective; customers will love them a lot and even me I will love to have it at my home for my children to use for studying. It will help them in saving money they use in buying batteries and candles.” Charles Nkhata, owner of Chabina Ian Grocery in Chimutu market, selling lighting and groceries.

Check out the new SunnyMoney website to find out how our social enterprise is helping to get solar lights to these markets.

Ray of Sunshine: Judali in Tanzania

Judali Aleani from Dodoma in Tanzania bought a solar light in August last year. Just last month, SolarAid Research Assistant Vitalis phoned Judali up to check in with him on his light. Here’s what we found out:

We use [the light] at night time to light our home, my children they use it for studying and even in the kitchen we use it to light there when preparing our meal. It is very helpful; my children use it to study, also I use it to prepare my daily schedule for school as a teacher. I get enough light and nowadays I don’t buy batteries because the light needs only sunlight. I don’t have any cost of getting light since I bought this light even kerosene’s price nowadays I don’t know.

Judali said that the savings are used “to spend more in the household and education items for my children.

Judali has six children with four at school. The children now do two hours of homework each night – more than before “because the light gives them enough light and I’m happy for that because I have no cost just sunlight.”

Find out more about SunnyMoney’s work on their new website:

Ray of Sunshine: interest in solar

Our SolarAid Research Assistants Lilian and Getrude in Kenya have just finished some baseline market research in Kisii and Nyamira counties where the SunnyMoney field teams are heading next.

From their data we found out that only 62% in the area had heard of or seen pico-solar lights and just 21% of those knew where they could buy one.

But when asked, 93% of those interviewed said they would like to buy a solar light, and they thought they were a ‘cheap’ or ‘reasonable’ price after our research team told them the price.

"I am interested: the light will reduce my expenses and I will be able to use the money on something else." Raphael Bundi at Marani market in Kisii told Lilian.

"The price is cheap compared to the money I use to buy paraffin and I will be able to save some money as well because I can only buy the light once and use it for a long time." Elser Atieno said.

Find out more about our work on the brand-new SunnyMoney website here.

Ray of Sunshine: challenges for study time

This Ray of Sunshine shares thoughts from SunnyMoney solar light customers in Malawi on how their children’s study time was affected before having a solar light.

Alex Chimdima has one boy and one girl at Kambalu school who used to use torches for their homework. Alex told our research team, "It affected them negatively because we were always trying to save batteries for the other day therefore denying them enough time to study." Alex bought a d.light S2 in the School Campaign in Dowa in June this year.

Luka Green has three girls at Kambalu Secondary School in Dowa district. The girls used to use a kerosene lamp for study but, "The children were not enjoying their studies using the kerosene lamp since it could run out of kerosene any time. I heard that the [solar light] is guaranteed so I knew the product is worth the amount." Luka bought a d.light S2 in June.

Dinnes Maenje has one boy and one girl at the local primary school, Namatongwe. The children used torches to light up their homework but Dinnes says, "They were affected and sometimes they didnt’ even want to study at all because of the little time they were given to study while trying to save batteries." Dinnes bought a Greenlight Planet SunKing Mobile recently.

Jacob Kamanga has two boys and four girls at the local school. He says that using a torch for their homework "affected them because sometimes we had to make a choice between using the torch for studying or lighting when cooking especially when the batteries are dying." He decided to buy a SunKing Mobile because, "I wanted to help my children with their studies and also save money."

Pashion Chiwana has two boys and three girls at school who used to use candles for their study. This negatively affected their study time and motivation because, "They never had that freedom to study since candles don’t last long." Pashion bought a d.light S2.

We’ll be following up with Alex, Luka, Dinnes, Jacob and Pashion in a few months to see how they’re getting on with their solar lights. Follow me on Twitter to make sure you hear what we find out: @Sunrise_Kat

Ray of Sunshine: *Ali in Tanzania*


This week’s Ray of Sunshine has been chosen and written by guest star Benjamin Lambert (pictured). Benjamin is a SolarAid Research Assistant in Tanzania, he’s pictured above conducting a phone interview with a solar light customer.

*This week’s Ray of Sunshine is about Ali Murusu a father of nine from Dodoma region, Tanzania who bought a solar light with phone-charging capability in August last year.

Mr Marusu is a secondary school teacher. Before using a solar light he was using kerosene lamps to light up his house during the night which cost him almost 2,4000 TSH per week (~$1.45): which is almost one third of his income.

He told me that: “I used to spend a lot of money to buy kerosene for my eight kerosene lamps because I have a big house, so when I heard about solar lights I was very interested to know about them. When I heard its price it was very cheap compared to the usage of kerosene lamps because my only price will be to put it outside during the day when the sun is shining and use it during the evening which will cost me almost nothing.”

Ali now is no longer buying kerosene and he uses his savings for his children for their education costs and buying food for the family.

He has nine children, five of them are boys while four of them are girls, there are four boys who go to school and two girls who go to school; the others have already completed their studies at secondary level. For the children who go to school they now spend three hours each for studying a night: “Now they have got motivation to study hard because they have got brighter light which make them to study for long time without getting tired.”

Ali is not only saving money but also the health of his family whereby they used to have flu several times before using solar lights because of the soot from the kerosene lamps  which did not only affect their health but also darken the wall of the house. Ali told me that “Now I can prepare materials during night so that I can use it for teaching tomorrow.”*

Any questions for Benjamin, just comment below.

Ray of Sunshine: solar lights and GDP

This Ray of Sunshine puts some of the amazing impact the SolarAid SunnyMoney teams in Africa have into perspective.

Using World Bank data for 2013 gross domestic product (GDP)*, SunnyMoney data for 2013 solar light sales and SolarAid research data for average household income saved, it can be estimated that the savings that solar lights enable account for up to 0.05% of national GDP.

  • Kenya: aggregate household savings from solar lights sold by SunnyMoney accounted for an estimated 0.04% of GDP in 2013
  • Malawi: 0.02% of GDP
  • Tanzania: 0.05% of GDP
  • Zambia: 0.02% of GDP

While these might seem like a small contribution, it shows just what potential solar lights could unlock for a country as a whole. We know from our research that these household savings are commonly used for food, education costs and farming inputs/business development so the majority of the savings are likely to be injected into the local economy.

Find out more at

*GDP is an indicator used to measure the health of a country’s economy. It is the market value of all goods and services produced within a country in a year.

New Country Report: Kenya

As promised, here’s our new (and first ever) Country Report for Kenya. It shares information on the activities, progress and impact of SunnyMoney in Kenya in 2013. 

Here’s a snapshot of the big impact we’ve had in Kenya in 2013: 

  • 156,000 solar lights sold with an estimated:
  • 1 million people having better access to clean, safe, bright light
  • 860,000 people experiencing better health thanks to reducing the use of kerosene
  • $90 million saved for families from reducing spending on kerosene, candles and batteries*
  • 310 million hours extra study time for children using solar lights for homework*
  • 275,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide averted due to reduced kerosene use*

* over the lifetime of the solar lights

Find out more at

New Country Report: Malawi

At SolarAid we’ve just released our first ever Country Report for Malawi. It shares information on the activities, progress and impact of SunnyMoney in Malawi in 2013. The Tanzania and Zambia ones are available here, but watch out for Kenya coming in the next few days. 

For now though, here’s a snapshot of the big impact we’ve had in Malawi in 2013: 

  • 22,800 solar lights sold with an estimated:
  • 135,000 people having better access to clean, safe, bright light
  • 52,000 people experiencing better health thanks to reducing the use of kerosene
  • $2.9 million saved for families from reducing spending on kerosene, candles and batteries*
  • 74 million hours extra study time for children using solar lights for homework*
  • 11,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide averted due to reduced kerosene use*

* over the lifetime of the solar lights

Find out more at

Ray of Sunshine: Margret and her solar light

Today’s Ray of Sunshine comes from Choma district in Zambia.

Margret Bweupe is a school manager with three children. She bought a Greenlight Planet SunKing Pro from the SunnyMoney school team in March 2013. SolarAid’s research team followed up with her in November 2013 to find out how she is getting on with the light.

We use [the light] when we have a power cut or blackout. I also use it in my bedroom because I prefer the solar light to electricity. Also, when there is a power cut, my children and I use it for studying and preparing for the next day. Once you buy the solar light there are no other expenses on lighting.”

In fact, Margret now saves $2.30 a month on lighting and uses this to buy food for her baby. The children now study for an extra hour each evening, “because the light is bright and there are no fears of burning the house.”

When asked to rate her satisfaction with the light, Margret rated it 5 out of 5 (very satisfied) because, “the light is bright enough and it has no effects to our health.”

Margret has recommended her solar light to 10 of her friends.

Update on our big study

You may have heard about our randomised control trial (RCT) study into the impact of solar lights on poverty alleviation, funded by Google ($650,000).

We have some great news to update you with: Google have agreed to provide a further $127,000 of funding to allow us to have an add-on to the study. This add-on will focus on answering key questions around exposure rates to traditional lighting methods and the health impacts of this. There is a reasonable amount of evidence around the topic of the contribution of cooking to indoor air pollution, but nothing on lighting specifically, so this research will also be incredibly useful.

The RCT study will be conducted in Kenya, the pilot will start in October this year, with the main study starting in February 2015, and results available in June 2016.

SolarAid will not be delivering the study ourselves, we’ve selected some excellent research partners; we’ll update you on this as soon.

Find out more at and follow me on Twitter to keep up to date with progress @Sunrise_Kat