Solar Sisters Bring Light To Africa

Solar Sister is a social enterprise training and supporting women in Africa in the creation of solar micro-businesses that help address rampant energy poverty through the sale of simple solar powered lights.
   
Based on a direct-sales network concept, the Solar Sister program helps these women to generate income, and through their efforts, brings cleaner and safer lighting into rural African communities. The women primarily use their networks of family, friends and neighbours to build their solar lighting businesses and also sell solar powered cell phone chargers that help enhance communication facilities in their communities.
   
We tend to take lighting for granted; but in these communities, lighting a home can be a very expensive exercise and one that impacts heavily on health. 
  
Kerosene is still widely used in poorer parts of Africa as a fuel for lighting; the burning of which generates nitrogen dioxide, benzene and toluene. Nitrogen dioxide can impact the respiratory system, benzene is carcinogenic and toluene is also toxic. In addition to being expensive – up to 30% of a family’s income may be spent on energy – kerosene combustion also generates high levels of carbon dioxide emissions.
  
It’s estimated 780 million women and children globally breathe kerosene fumes, inhaling the equivalent of smoke from two packs of cigarettes a day.
  
Currently, there are over 100 Solar Sisters operating in 3 sub-Saharan African countries. Between them, they have brought solar powered light to over 4,300 villagers.
  
People interested in supporting the initiative can assist by providing the seed capital to provide a ‘business in a bag’ – all the tools a Solar Sister will need to kick-start her own business. The organisation says $46 of economic impact is generated for every $1 invested in a Solar Sister Entrepreneur. The organisation also offers an option to buy solar lights to be given to school children so they can study at night.