I’m Nancy from the SunnyMoney Zambia office. You last heard from me in December 2015 when I wrote to share news of how my home country was in crisis due to droughts. Your response was incredible and we were able to continue our work selling affordable solar lights in rural areas in those harsh conditions thanks to you.
When I wrote to you, I told you that the price of a candle had doubled because of the drought, which has been terrible for our economy and led to a huge increase in the cost of living. The drought has not relented and the cost of everyday items has now tripled.
Most people here still lack electricity
More than half of my fellow citizens, over 10 million Zambians, live without electricity everyday and because of the government rationing electricity to 12 hours a day, even those in urban areas are faced with the challenge of how to light their homes at night.
Schools suffer the same issues and, once it gets dark, kerosene is a terrible source of light which gives off toxic fumes and creates eye irritation and respiratory illnesses. Burning kerosene also emits carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming.
Students cannot study without light
So while students in the UK revise for GCSEs and A Levels on their smartphones, tablets and new computers with fast and reliable internet access, students in Zambia sit in the dark, or face the prospect of polluting their homes with toxic fumes from kerosene, which still only provides poor, flickering light. How can they hope to pass exams if they can not see to revise?
Solar lights increase exam pass rates
We have a solution, it’s called the SunnyMoney, or SM100, solar light. It’s a small but reliable light, powered by the sun, which we’re able to sell for just $5 in Malawi, Uganda and Zambia with the support from your donations. We recently sold solar lights to a school which has been cut off from the electricity grid and the pass rate for school children taking exams rose from around 15% to over 60% after they were provided with solar lamps.
Clemance, one of the children at the school who had bought a solar light with help from her parents, explained
“The solar light has helped me study for several hours every evening. I am so happy now I can learn more and have a better chance of passing my exams”.
However, we are struggling to get enough of these great little solar lights into the field to help students like Clemance and their families.
SM100 provides a real solution
The SM100 solar light itself has now been certified as meeting Lighting Global Quality Standards, proving its pedigree as a high quality, durable light, and our manufacturing partners at Yingli Solar are poised to ramp up production, but the main issue we face at SolarAid and SunnyMoney is cash flow. We simply do not have the funds to order enough solar lights to meet the demand in Africa.
94 pence out of every pound we raise goes to getting solar lights into the field, but to continue our award-winning work and to help students like Clemance to pass their exams we need a regular supply of funding. So, if you are able, I would like to ask you to set up a direct debit to help deliver solar lights to people in need.
We need to raise £200,000 to provide an ongoing fund so that we can provide a constant supply of SM100s to Africa and improve the lives of people living without electricity.
Please can you consider increasing your monthly donation? Just £12 will fund the distribution of 3 solar lights every month, providing over three thousand hours of extra study time for African students. Each solar light also averts more than a tonne of CO2 over its lifespan and creates a huge impact to African families in terms of health, financial savings and security.
It would be excellent if you can help.
Thank you for your support.
The following letter from our Chairman, Jeremy Leggett, accompanied Nancy’s letter:
Dear SolarAid Supporters,
I set up SolarAid over ten years ago with the purpose of eradicating the kerosene lamp from Africa. Since then we’ve sold almost 2 million solar lights and helped catalyse the first two solar markets in Africa in Kenya and Tanzania.
Now, armed with our new SM100 solar light, we’re keen to do more faster but, as Nancy explains in her letter, our main issue is cash flow. We need to raise £200,000 to provide an ongoing fund so that we can distribute a constant supply of SM100s to Zambia, Uganda and Malawi to improve the lives of people living without electricity.
SolarAid is currently overdependent on increasingly impossible-to-predict and precarious donations from aid agencies, foundations, and companies. This is a great way to run the gauntlet of death-by-cash-flow. So I am endeavouring to insulate the charity by soliciting as much of a regular and predictable donation stream as I can from individuals and communities.
A donation of just £12 per month will get three solar lights to Africa and help families save £435, providing much needed funds to spend on food and other essentials in a time of famine. I’m not sure there are many social-benefit paybacks as good as the this. So please, could you consider signing up for a regular donation?
I would be forever grateful,
Jeremy Leggett, Founder and Chairman, SolarAid.