SolarAid is an international charity that combats poverty and climate change. They are providing access to solar lights in some of the most remote regions of the world and building a movement to eradicate the kerosene lamp.
Research and Innovation
SunnyMoney currently operates in Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi and Uganda. It is a product neutral distributor and all lights sold are Lighting Africa approved.
Innovation and Research
Innovation is vital for their work. Though millions of people are turning to solar solutions, they need to give this choice to the millions more still unable to afford the upfront cost of a $10 solar light. The SunnyMoney Brains Innovation Unit develops initiatives to drive SolarAid’s impact.
Key projects include:
Trialling new entry-level pay-as-you-go (PAYG) solar lights to help find ways for customers to pay off the cost of their light in instalments equal to their usual expenditure on kerosene or candles; making products more affordable for lower-income, risk-averse families
Product Financing: working with Savings and Credit Co-operatives (SACCOs) and Micro-Finance Institutions (MFIs) in Kenya and Tanzania to extend the product financing they offer on solar products
As an organisation focused on climate solutions, SunnyMoney also works to minimize the environmental impact of the solar lights. SunnyMoney works with manufacturers to improve product efficiency and materials and is building recycling processes, currently being trialled with partners in Kenya.
While innovation helps us to develop new ways to bring solar light to low income families, SolarAid’s extensive research programmes help us understand the needs of their customers and to promote policies that create the biggest development benefits. For instance, SolarAid is working with Google on a randomised control trial to better understand the impact of a portable solar light on poverty alleviation and with Stanford University to further explore impacts on education.
SolarAid shares all of its learning so the industry can work together to reach more people and drive policies which create the most effective change.
Building of an Alliance
SolarAid has made a Clinton Global Initiative commitment to building the alliance to eradicate the kerosene lamp from Africa by 2020. They're already driving several initiatives to unite the off-grid lighting sector and their goal is to encourage multiple organisations to enter the market.
SolarAid’s role in sector-wide initiatives include:
Co-chairing the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association’s (GOGLA) Policy Working Group.
Working closely with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Enlighten Initiative to support the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Regional Efficient Lighting Policy-making process
Playing an active role in Renewable Energy Associations in Kenya and Tanzania lobbying for reduced VAT/tariffs on solar lights
Securing funding for an advocacy programme in Malawi which seeks to reactivate the Renewable Energy Association there
Helping GOGLA launch a global study on Investing in Off-Grid Lighting
Their lights also help build trust and awareness in solar energy which supports larger solar systems in off-grid rural areas - helping to drive and support the wider industry.