Elephant Energy

Mission: To improve the quality of life in developing communities by pioneering ventures that provide access to appropriate sustainable energy technologies. Vision: Light in every home, clean air in every kitchen, power in every hand...
Apr 9, 2014

Spreading light in 2014...

Namibian brothers showing off their new products
Namibian brothers showing off their new products

Wow, friends! 2014 is off to an amazing start and I'm excited to share lots of great news with you–our dedicated partners. With your help, Elephant Energy Namibia started the year continuing to scale our solar product distribution model from one shop and fifteen rural sales agents in the Zambezi Region to an additional thirty-five businesses and sales agents across six additional regions in the country’s north. We brought on four new Regional Sales Managers who carried-out our first large-scale marketing campaign, with a focus on radio and a strategic ground campaign in towns and rural villages across the north. These two components, coupled with positive word-of-mouth endorsements, have been critical in establishing Elephant Energy as a trusted name in solar products, and in delivering products and educational information about solar energy to the critical “last mile” of off-grid, rural villages.

That said, going to scale with a business model targeted to poor customers and in a country with one of the lowest population densities of any country on earth has been no easy feat! Thanks to our incredible Project Manager, Adam Pearlman, and our exceptional team of Namibian staff leading our efforts on the ground, we have emerged from this expansion stronger than ever and are continuing to make an incredible impact on the lives of our clients and friends.

Speaking of our clients and friends, I want to share a few stories with you that I think really demonstrate our impact on the ground. Sylvia is from the Eshoke village and lives in a traditional stick hut with her entire family. One night, she woke up, smelled smoke and realized her house was on fire. A few years earlier, Sylvia lost her mother to a fire when her mother's house burned down while she was sleeping. Sylvia rushed to get everyone out of the house and managed to do so safely this time. Although everyone is safe, Sylvia now she suffers from smoke inhalation, which requires medical treatments. After the recent fire, Sylvia saw her neighbors using an Eco that they purchased from an Energy Entrepreneur. Her neighbors introduced her to an Elephant Energy Regional Sales Agent named Amelia, who sold Sylvia a Sun King Pro. Sylvia said she will never buy candles again, and has told her friends or family to make the switch to solar lighting.

In another instance, Frida Namene is a teacher in rural Oshikoto who used to pay people with cars to charge her cell phone. After purchasing a Sun King Pro from an Energy Entrepreneur, she now charges a fee to other people in her village who need to charge their phones, and she is making N$500 per month! Frida also invites all of the other teachers in the village over to her house to share her light while they mark papers together.

Your support has been instrumental in increasing safety and health, as well as improving the economic livelihoods of people in rural Namibia. Thank you for your ongoing interest in and support of Elephant Energy. We look forward to continuing to update you as we keep changing lives in these underserved Namibian communities.

A happy customer
A happy customer

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Jan 16, 2014

New Energy Entrepreneurs Equipped and Sold Out in December

As 2013 was drawing to a close, Elephant Energy Namibia was able to equip two new Energy Entrepreneurs with an initial stock of 10 energy products, and provide them with comprehensive training in marketing and sales, through donations made to GlobalGiving. The December holiday season is a busy time for sales in Namibia, and the Energy Entrepreneurs were able to sell all of their products to communities that are in need of alternative energy sources. The capacity building and commission earned by the Energy Entrepreneurs is extremely valuable to these individuals, but even more important than the income to the Energy Entrepreneurs are the benefits the products provide to the end users, their families and communities.

A mother living in Onakalunga used to struggle to buy daily bread to feed her three children. Through our incremental payment system, which requires only a small down payment, she was able to purchase a Greenlight Planet Sun King Pro solar light and cellphone charger and has started letting people in her village charge their cellphones for a small fee. With the income she earned from cellphone charging, she managed to complete her payments for the solar product in only a few weeks. Now she uses her profits to buy food for her children that she could not afford before, and she is saving up for a second light. Her children also use the light to read at night and are safer living in a home with no candles or kerosene.

One adventurous entrepreneur took a risk and invested in a Greenlight Planet Sun King Pro solar light for her business. Felicia is a food vendor who has been selling meat and chips at the Okatwitwi open market in Oshikango for several years. She has always tried to keep her business open after dark but the cost of kerosene, candles and the strong wind have deterred her from staying open late. After purchasing a solar product from one of our Energy Entrepreneurs, Felicia has been able to increase her hours of operation along with her revenue, and she generates nearly 100% of the cost of the light in additional revenue every night during her extended business hours. Some of Felicia’s entrepreneurial friends at the Okatwitwi open market witnessed her success and saved money to purchase solar lights of their own, and now there is a row of vendors open late every night.

Namibia is the second least densely populated country in the world, and this makes it extremely difficult for social services to reach all of the people. The “Men and Women Network” is a community organization in the Oshana region that was created to help communities protect themselves from crime when police are not available in their area. Village members volunteer their time to join the organization and they get together to patrol their towns for criminals. The “Men and Women Network” recently purchased several Greenlight Planet Sun King Pro solar light and cellphone chargers to utilize in their efforts to fight crime in their areas. They use the light to keep themselves safe and scare off criminals, and they also use the products to charge their cellphones to contact police in the event of emergencies.

In addition to crime, there are many dangers associated with living in rural villages of Namibia. The greatest concern to villagers in Northern Namibia, where Elephant Energy operates, are the poisonous snakes that invade the villages in the rainy season. Moniqua, from Mukekte Village in the Kavango Region, bought a Greenlight Planet Sun King Pro solar light to protect her from snakes, and soon after purchasing it she used it to assist in killing a big snake in her home. Tate Thomas, from Ohangwena, bought a Greenlight Planet Sun King Pro to protect his family from snakes after one of his children narrowly survived a snake bite.

Whether they are assisting individuals in earning an income for their family, or contributing to the safety of a village, the solar lights that are distributed by Energy Entrepreneurs are making a huge impact in the lives of rural villagers across Namibia. The recipients of these benefits may not be aware of where the generous contributions came from that brought Elephant Energy solar products to their areas, but they are nonetheless extremely grateful to everyone who has made an impact in their lives by participating in GlobalGiving, and on their behalf, we say thank you.

Jan 10, 2014

A story of change and possibility

Meme Felicia
Meme Felicia

Meme Felicia smiles, cooking fresh cuts of meat and preparing chips in Oshikango market. She adds another cut of beef to the grill. Customers wait in line and point to the pieces of meat they want, and grab a piece of tripe to chew on while they wait for Felicia to prepare their order. Felicia serves up a plate full of food to a hungry customer, and he pays his bill and begins feasting.

What’s strange about this scene? Its hours after dark. A month ago, Meme Felicia would close her business at sunset because she didn’t have access to light.

Meme Felicia has prepared and sold food in Oshikango market for 4 years. There was no electricity at her business location, so she used candles to keep her business lit. The candles were placed above her so she could illuminate her working area, but wax from the candles would drip on the meat and customers complained. Even with the use of the candles, she would close her business around sunset because the candles could not provide enough light to operate during the night.

Last month, Felicia attended a solar light demonstration in Oshikango hosted by Elephant Energy. At the demonstration, Felicia learned about Elephant Energy’s solar product offerings, including the popular Sun King Pro. As the name suggests, Sun King Pro is powered by the sun. During the day, the Sun King Pro soaks up energy from the sun, and at night, it provides light and also charges cellphones. To those without light at night, it also provides an opportunity to extend activities after dark. And since all of Elephant Energy’s solar products come with a 1-year warranty, including the Sun King Pro, quality is guaranteed. “It didn’t take long for me to decide that this solar light would help my business,” said Felicia. She purchased the Sun King Pro from Elephant Energy a few days later.

She’s now been using the Sun King Pro for a month and in that month, she’s seen dramatic positive changes in her business. Because she no longer uses candles, she saves money on candle costs. The meat she sells is now wax-free and customers compliment her on the quality of the product. Felicia now graciously offers free cellphone-charging services for neighboring business owners. But most importantly, because her business area is now illuminated by the Sun King Pro’s light, she has been able to extend her operating hours so she can sell food to hungry customers hours after the sun has set. “Thanks to my new solar light and extended hours, I have tripled my daily profits,” Felicia exclaims.

Since she has extended business hours in Oshikango market, customers have taken notice and more people are coming to the area to eat at night. But it’s not just the hungry customers who have noticed – other women operating food stalls in the area have, too. Now, thanks to Felicia’s success due to her Sun King Pro, two other women have purchased Sun King Pros from Elephant Energy for their businesses and several other women are eager to buy them.

The two new Sun King Pro owners in Oshikango market have seen similar success with their businesses, saving money on candles, serving wax-free meat to customers and extending their business hours every night.

Udalikokule, one of the new Sun King Pro users, said she now works for hours after sunset thanks to the solar light and has doubled her income. While she’s only had the Sun King Pro for a few weeks, she’s already seen a difference. “I’ve been able to provide more food for my 3 children, invest more money into my business, and put the rest of the extra income into my savings account.”

Elephant Energy Sales Manager for Ohangwena and Omusati, Elizabeth Ndiyayele, hears success stories like these often. “We are a nonprofit with a social mission: we deliver affordable, high-quality solar products to people who need them the most, even to people in the villages. Elephant Energy saves customers money on candles and kerosene and lets entrepreneurs work during night hours when they couldn’t before. I love my job, and I love hearing that people are improving their lives with our solar products.”  

Elephant Energy's WE Project successes are thanks to our remarkable network of women and supporters of women from the USA to Namibia. Thank you to our dedicated supporters, advocates, cheerleaders, and donors who make stories like Meme Felicia's possible.

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