The day is hard, but going well. We’re hosting investors, an all-day affair. It started with a 5 am wake-up call and a ride in the dark under the shadows of Kilimanjaro.
It’s after lunch now, and we’re visiting Mama Oliver and Mama Asia at Good Hope. Mama Oliver has arranged for one of her customers who’s paying for solar light recharges to come, too.
We’re sitting in the schoolroom office. The concrete walls keep things cool even in the heat, and a dusty wind is blowing through the window. Posters and marker-written mission statements hang around us, and we gather around the desk in plastic Coca-Cola-branded chairs to talk.
In Swahili, the Mama explains why she likes solar.
‘I used to spend 3,500 a week on kerosene,’ she says—about $2.20.
‘Now I pay only 500 three times a week, or less.’
Our sales manager Cecilia translates, and we offer additional clarification.
‘So she’s saving at least 2,000/= a week with us. That’s about $1.25.’
Adam and I share a glance.
‘After dark, her kids used to go to bed. Now they can stay up to study later,’ Cecilia continues, translating. ‘After her children go to bed, she works. She’s a seamstress, and she sews clothes between 10 pm and 4 am. Then she rests before getting up in the morning.’
I wonder where she finds the time to rest with that schedule, but my mind is spinning too fast to really think about it. She’s saving so much money! And she’s able to produce more goods to sell!
Recapping the day that evening, we do the math. 57%. We’re saving this Mama 57%. She used to spend $113.75, and now she would spend $48.75—a savings of $65 a year. Average school fees here are $40 per child for primary school, so that’s at least one child’s school fees worth of savings. And she’s using solar light to be able to work productively in the dark, so that she can produce more and make more money.
This is so cool! This is it!