06 April 2010

Solar Lights come to the South Rift!

Olkiramatian Women partner with D.light solar lighting company

We are excited to report that the Olkiramatian Women’s Group - now officially registered as the Olkiramatian Reto Community Based Organization – have launched a new small business. The Women have formed a partnership with D.Light (http://www.dlightdesign.com/) solar lighting products, and are becoming official distributors in the Olkiramatian area.

For much of rural Africa, electricity is not an option, forcing most families to light their nights with kerosene lanterns and flashlights/torches. A dependence on these types of light has many drawbacks: kerosene lanterns are extremely dangerous because of the risk of fire, the toxic fumes are a major cause of illness, and kerosene is expensive and often difficult to get in remote areas. These risks, and the poor light quality they provide, also prevent many school children from studying with kerosene lanterns at night. Battery-powered torches/flashlights used in this area are of extremely low quality as are the locally available batteries they require. As a result, people have to frequently replace their broken flashlights/torches and/or their batteries. This is expensive and an environmental and health hazard. There is currently no way for local people to dispose of old batteries properly, hence leaking battery acids end up in the soil and water.

Luckily, the good people at D.Light are well aware of the situation in rural areas around the world and are doing their part to alleviate poverty and promote sustainable environmental practices. They have a lofty goal in mind – to eliminate the world of the kerosene lantern.

Here in the South Rift, the Olkiramatian Women have been searching for ways to reinvest their camping fees from the past 2 years into small businesses. They also wanted to find an appropriate business that promotes the Resource Centre’s goals to integrate conservation, development, and education. After careful thought, it was decided the sale of solar lights represented all of these goals – solar lights would decrease dependence on kerosene and battery products, provide a sustainable light source for each home, allow children to study safely at night, and provide a small business opportunity that will develop the Women’s Group, which in turn, will help sustain their new projects, including the school bursary program.

After a month of ‘field-testing’ D.Lights products, the Women invited representatives from D.Light to visit the camp and discuss the possibility of becoming a local distributor. To everyone’s great delight (pun intended), a partnership was formed and the women purchased their first modest stock of Kiran, Solata, and Nova lights. The Women are working out the details of marketing strategies, sale prices, business management strategies, etc., and hope to offer these lights for sale as soon as possible. All in all, everyone at the Resource Centre is extremely excited about this new venture, and very proud the Olkiramatian Reto Community Based Organization will lead the way providing solar lights to their community.