Light Libraries

SolarAid’s core model, The SunnyMoney Way, begins by working with local schools and head teachers to build trust and demand for solar lights. Whilst this model has reached over 11 million people with solar light we know that not everyone will be reached by a market-based model.

For the poorest families, even the most affordable solar lights available remain out of reach. Without access to electricity, children are forced to endanger their lives just to do their homework – using candles, poor-quality torches or kerosene lamps.

Building on SolarAid’s experience in last mile distribution through schools, in partnership with the Ministry of Education, we launched Light Libraries in 2019 – an innovation designed specifically to reach the poorest students and their families.

Like a book library, but for solar lights – for as little as 1p a day, much less than families are spending on candles, kerosene or batteries, students can borrow a solar light.

Each Light Library school is also equipped with a solar home system, lighting up classrooms and enabling a higher standard of education.

This model acts as a ‘try before you buy’ model for all, building a community’s trust in solar products and leading to ownership.

Re-launching in 2021, SolarAid aims to develop a best practice model to maximise the impact LightLibraries can have on education, energy access and market catalysation. Once proven, we will take this model to the international community as a solution to achieving SDG 7 – ensuring that by 2030, no school is left in the dark.

"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.