Keeping the lights on

Saidi’s journey into entrepreneurship began with humble roots.

Driven by a desire to provide a better future for his family, he has worked hard to establish a business that contributes to the well-being of his community.

But each day, when the sun sets across sub-Saharan Africa, business men and women, like Saidi are forced to shut up shop and return home. Without light, customers can’t browse the items they need and sellers find it more difficult to count the money they charge for goods.  

When Saidi was introduced to affordable and sustainable lighting solutions powered by solar energy, it was a pivotal moment for his business. The solar lights distinguish his grocery store from neighbouring shops, helping him attract customers who can shop comfortably after dark.

“I bought my first solar light in 2019. It was like the one over there [pointing at a Pico Light being charged], nothing fancy, but it lit up our shop like magic when the night came.”

Saidi Sanduka, proudly shows a solar light that he uses in his grocery store after dark. (SolarAid/Kondwani Jere)

When Saidi first learnt about solar lights from a fellow member of the community, Violet Matemba, he immediately recognised the opportunity for his small business. He began purchasing affordable, sustainable lamps, from Violet and incorporated them into his store. The solar energy meant the grocery store didn’t have to close at dusk, and the extended hours of operation increased his revenue while improving both safety and convenience for his customers.

“People like to come to my shop even after the sun sets because they know they can still see what they’re buying. It’s good for business, keeps the money flowing. […] This means I sell more and I also save a lot of money as I don’t pay bills or buy candles or torches like I used to do before buying the lights.”

Saidi has noticed more people across the community getting their own solar lights. “It’s good, makes the village feel safer at night. Plus, people are tired of the darkness, I think. Who wouldn’t want a bit of light in their lives? I have had several friends buy off my light, and I will just go Violet and get a replacement. So people are very interested when they see me using this light in the shop and I know that Violet is making a lot of sales.”

His family also benefit from the solar lights, “we use the lights for many things such as cooking dinner, reading to the kids, and even just sitting and talking after a long day’s work”. He and his wife have also seen an improvement in their children’s educator, “The kids can see well at night without straining their eyes now. They are young but I am happy that they are able to see well during the night.”

Saidi sits in his grocery store as night sets in Nyama


With solar lights, rural entrepreneurs like Saidi don’t have to end their working days when the sun goes down. Instead, they can flick a switch and continue serving their customers late into the night. The extra working hours give hard-working business people to earn and provide for their families. With your help, we can get life-changing solar lights to rural communities, just like Nyama.

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