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Light Libraries

Light Libraries are an innovative and cost-effective solution, bringing light when families in rural sub-Saharan Africa are plunged into darkness as the sun sets. Helping families earn, children learn and everyone feel safe at night.

What is a Light Library?

For some families, the cost of buying a solar light is simply out of reach. A Light Library is just like a library for books, but for solar lights. Borrowing a solar light from a Light Library, for a fee much less than it would cost to buy a candle, is an affordable option and helps build trust in solar products. Families also experience the solar light in their own home, removing the risk out of later buying one.

Fabriola borrows a light from the Light Library

Fabriola borrows a light from the Light Library in Malawi.

How it works

Each school is equipped with 20 solar lights and a solar home system lighting up classrooms and enabling a higher standard of education. Students can borrow the solar lights in exchange for an equivalent of about 1p/day. They then take the light home to study, read, socialise and dream.

Dalitso and his teacher Beatrice

Dalitso and his teacher Beatrice in Malawi.

The impact

With Light Libraries, students, families and communities reap the benefit of having reliable access to light. Over time, these solar lights help households save money, while generating revenue for local schools, boosting education budgets.

For students, access to light at night enables them to pass their exams and continue their education creating a brighter future for all. Teachers also feel the difference. With the school equipped with a solar system, teachers are able to plan lessons and grade papers in the hours before and after school.

Light Libraries also act as a ‘try before you buy’ model, helping to build trust in and demand for solar products. Each Light Library is linked with a locally recruited solar entrepreneur, who can offer solar lights for sale in the community.

Ms Michelo, teacher in Zambia
"What I have seen after assessing them, most of them now, are able to read. The solar lights have also helped the children to bond. They have time to chat in the evening, unlike before when they just go to sleep. The light has brought the family together."
- MS. MICHELO, TEACHER IN ZAMBIA

Stories from Light Libraries

Going beyond 'business as usual' in Malawi

Our SunnyMoney team in Malawi has set up two new solar light libraries which are designed to help enable universal access to clean, renewable, light. If we want to ensure that everyone has access to solar lighting by 2030, we need to go beyond ‘business as usual’ and develop new initiatives which enable even the poorest households to access solar light.