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Women in solar – Susan the Super Agent

Susan at a SunnyMoney training session in Yumbe.

Susan, from Yumbe District in Uganda, is a mother and wife who has raised five school children with her husband Nixon. She spends her days teaching students at a Secondary School in Moyo and her evenings working on her farm and business, but now she is a SunnyMoney agent too.

Susan heard about SunnyMoney when she attended a school campaign workshop in Obongi, held by the headteacher. She felt extremely lucky to have been invited to represent her school and was very interested in what was offered, immediately choosing to buy some solar lights to distribute.

When Susan’s husband heard about her new role as a SunnyMoney Sales Agent, he said

“You are a great entrepreneur and I will work and help you with this opportunity”.

SolarAid’s African retail brand, SunnyMoney, sells solar lights to agents throughout Uganda, Malawi and Zambia on a non-profit basis. This allows the agents to sell the lights on for a profit, generating valuable income. Since its inception, SunnyMoney has helped numerous agents develop micro-businesses to supplement their income whilst spreading clean, renewable light throughout rural communities.

This ‘trade not aid’ model has been instrumental in developing sustainable income for SunnyMoney sales agents whilst simultaneously developing the market for solar products in Africa.

Whilst attending her class in administrative law, Susan decided to show her classmates the lights. She found that many students loved the lights, subsequently purchasing some from her.

“My fellow students were impressed by how well explained the benefits I have gotten from using the small lights from sunny money that they bought everything I had including my own personal light.”

Realising how interest in the lights was growing, Susan quickly placed another order from Sunny Money. By the time the next school session started, her fellow students had done all the marketing she needed.

“All the students bought the lights I had and those who were held back because of financial difficulties, I took down their phone numbers for a follow up.”

By this time, Susan had started to realise what a great opportunity this was, and how Sunny Money was not only helping her earn extra income, but also giving her a chance to change the lives of the communities she has grown up with. She made it a goal to always talk about her SunnyMoney business and to campaign against the use of kerosene lamps, warning people of the dangers of using kerosene at the seminars and workshops she attends.

Her marketing strategy is simple; make sure customers know where to find her, and encourage them to spread the word about the solar lights to their friends and families.

She now has recruited more than 10 sub-agents who help her access hard to reach communities. You can tell that her customers and sub-agents trust her opinion from the smiles they give her when she talks to them.

“I am known as a truth worthy person and that everything I say is the gospel truth”.

Susan uses first-hand knowledge of her lamps to sell and explain the technology to her customers.  She also sells in the local food market, knowing other traders may be interested. Taking her time, she approaches them in the evening when she has their full attention.

She has used the profits from the SunnyMoney lights to increase her capital base and open up a shop with farm produce, increasing her personal income and allowing her to cover some of her children’s school fees.

Susan’s next dream is to buy a piece of land in her area and build a few houses for rent, alongside this, she also has planned to start a small SunnyMoney shop to help her to build up a base of capital and the ability to invest in a large stock of solar lights. That way, whenever her customers and sub-agents want a product, she will already have it in her store and she will further solidify her position as a super-agent in Yumbe and the nearby districts.

Susan’s story illustrates the true value of becoming a SunnyMoney Agent, transforming lives by increasing access to lighting through enterprise, rather than aid. SunnyMoney is proud to have helped Susan, and other women, develop successful businesses which help rural African’s save money whilst simultaneously improving quality of life. We wish Susan every success for the future.