Solar lights sold

How it works






Life-changing solar light

Our goal is to eradicate the kerosene lamp from Africa by 2020. To do this we want to get ‘pico’ solar lights to the 598 million people living off-grid in rural Africa.

How we reach the 598 million

Through our social enterprise, SunnyMoney, lights are sold, rather than given away for free.


A charity that sells lights!

Yep! At first this looks odd - but we believe this is both essential for the creation of a sustainable market for solar lights and the only way to eradicate the kerosene lamp from Africa for good.

All income generated by the sale of lights is invested back into our work: helping to make this an incredibly cost-effective way of combating both poverty and climate change. 

Success: switching on to solar

We’re a small charity with a huge impact. The average household size in East Africa is five, so with more than 1,000,000 solar lights sold since 2010, our work has helped transform the lives of over six million people already. 


Selling solar lights in remote communities where there is little trust or knowledge of solar, poor infrastructure and only basic retail networks is an expensive and difficult challenge. Businesses are naturally unwilling to gamble on such an unknown product.

SunnyMoney is taking the risk and creating the momentum within the market so that local entrepreneurs can make a successful business out of selling solar lights.

As people begin to trust the technology, more solar lamps are bought, costs fall and a thriving industry begins to take shape, attracting other organisations. As each region reaches a solar ‘tipping point’, local entrepreneurs take over and a permanent market is established. Jobs are created, solar lights become commonplace and more and more people are able to buy their way out of fuel poverty.

SunnyMoney can then focus on another region, then another – catalysing the pico solar market across the continent. SolarAid supports this growth, encouraging innovation and collaboration.

That’s progress and aid combined: 21st century style.

How to make it happen

To give people access to solar lamps and inspire trust in the technology, SunnyMoney engages local communities through the schools’ network.

By working with respected head teachers, our local teams are able to spread the message that solar lights are affordable, free up money spent on kerosene, and have health and educational benefits.

Head teachers are keen to help SunnyMoney precisely because they see the incredible impact the lights have on the lives of their students and their families.

How much do solar lamps cost through SunnyMoney?

Due to variations in kerosene price it is impossible to accurately define how long it takes to ‘pay-back’ the cost of a solar light through savings on fuel. However, for a basic study light this is around 12 weeks.

Solar lights sold through SunnyMoney are high-quality and Lighting Africa approved, from a range of reputable and ethical suppliers. The current generation of lights last for at least five years. In Tanzania, this means that a basic study light costs about 2% of the amount it would to fuel a kerosene lamp over the same period.

The future

We are constantly looking at new and innovative distribution initiatives and technologies, such as pay-as-you-go schemes. We want to reach as many people as possible which, of course, includes those who simply cannot save enough for a solar light.

We are also a charity which collaborates with other social enterprises and seeks to lobby governments, industry and international organisations. We want the global community to put pico solar lights firmly at the heart of the development agenda and to protect industry standards.  

There are still over half a billion people in Africa who are waiting for an opportunity to step into the solar era.

With your help, we can make affordable solar energy available to all.


“One of the biggest challenges in getting sustainable energy to the poor is getting to the ‘last mile’ – those remote rural areas where commercial distribution and retail networks simply don’t exist. SolarAid’s ingenious distribution methods are getting power to the people who need it the most.”

        - Sarah Butler-Sloss, Ashden Founder Director


“SunnyMoney has cracked the code on the distribution side of solar lanterns in East Africa” - 

        - Dr. Wieber Boer (CEO of Tony Elumelu Foundation)


To find out more about how we work click this link to a short case study of our solar projects in Tanzania