Solar Women Shine in Uganda!
Ten women met recently at Solar Health Uganda’s Bulenga offices to report on their solar successes and challenges while raising awareness and promoting solar in their remote villages. The Kikaaya Women SET group was formed in early 2018 by Solar Health Uganda, an advocacy and training program working with the Kyosiga Community Christian Association for Development and supported by Let There Be Light International.
On July 31st, Solar Health Uganda convened a meeting between the women entrepreneurs and Sunny Money, a vendor of high quality solar products. The energy poverty consultants at Solar Health Uganda are proud of their training programs and their ability to bring together key solar stakeholders and practitioners.
Women SET trains community-based women to conduct outreach and sensitization sessions in remote communities about the health, safety, educational and economic benefits of using solar lights.
During the meeting, several of the women expressed pride in the increase in community awareness about the benefits of using solar lighting. They also noted that most of the women have increased their incomes by acting as trained local vendors of the solar lights. However, all of the women expressed ongoing concern about delays in completing installment payments (when applicable) and frustration that despite the relatively low cost of the solar lights, many community members have extremely limited incomes and cannot afford the entry level threshold.
Below are some reflections from attendees.
Ssekandi Madinah, 52 years, is a Village Health Team member (VHT) and the Vice-Chairperson of the Women SET group. She works as a caterer and by selling solar lights. “I was inspired into solar entrepreneurship by the fact that this initiative focuses on protecting and improving the health of people. Being a VHT I found this to be a good opportunity to increase my involvement in helping people to better their lives. I am happy that many of the community members are now aware of the benefits of solar light energy. I am also able to increase my income. However, my concern is that people prefer to buy other [solar] products in the local market which tend to be cheaper. Yet clients don’t know that such products may be fake, and that’s why they are sold cheaply. Another thing is that for clients who request to pay in instalments, they are often late in completing the payments”.
Margaret Nanfuka Kikabi 54, the Secretary of the group said: “I am happy because since I joined this initiative I am able to network with many impactful people and I am generating income for my household. The challenge is that people want to buy solar lights at lower prices since there are others on the open market which look the same. What they don’t know is that those cheap products are usually fake yet for us we are selling genuine products. I suggest women SET members should also reach out to mobile markets in order to obtain more clients. My word to the public is that people should become active users of solar lighting energy for the sake of their lives.”