Nearly 70% of Namibia's population is considered rural. Further, nearly 30% of the population lives below the international poverty line–a problem that disproportionately impacts rural communities. The entrepreneurs that you support are lifting themselves, their families and their communities out of poverty. In the last few months, Elephant Energy's Regional Sales Managers have welcomed, trained and supported several new Sales Agents, who are helping to introduce new products in Namibia, and to continue to reach the most rural customers with innovative and life-changing solar products.
Dominic, one of our Regional Sales Managers in Namibia, recently told us a story about one of his customers. Fernando is from Angola but lives in Katima, where Dominic also lives. He bought a Sun King Pro 2 because there is no electricity where he lives, and he has been using it for light and to charge his cell phone. Fernando was telling Dominic that the December rain was heavy and his community flooded. During the flood, the "bubble fish" (catfish) performed mulungu–meaning they moved to small puddles of water while the rainfall was heavy–and Fernando was able to use his new light to catch fish in the small areas of left over water from flood. He caught 15 bubble fish in one night with his new light! Now, Fernando can feed his family and has extra fish left to share with the community.
Theo, one of our Senior Regional Sales Managers, shared a story with us about a 9th grade student who bought a light from him using some of the money he gets from the government of Namibia. John told Theo that he uses his Sun King Pro 2 to charge peoples cell phones and he is able to make about N$20 a month.
Your support of our programs is instrumental in our quest to increase access to these small-scale–yet life-changing–solar products.
On behalf of our five Regional Sales Managers and our nearly 50 Sales Agents, we thank you for your commitment to change and sustainable community development in Namibia. Please share this update, or other information about our work, with people you know who might be interested in our approach to global poverty reduction.
Without you, we wouldn't be able to continue providing life-enhancing products to people throughout Namibia, while providing jobs to those living in the most extreme economic conditions. Thank you.
Julia AlvarezExecutive Director
Happy New Year, friends and supporters!
As I reflect on some of our accomplishments this year, it becomes so clear to me that we wouldn't be able to do any of the work we do without you! Thank you for your unwavering support, for helping to make this year so amazing and for your commitment to bringing light to unelectrified places.
Since our last report, more exciting things have happened and we are closing the year out having made some amazing progress. First, we are very thrilled to announce that the first batch of divi-enabled Sun King Pro 2 lamps will be making its way to Namibia any day now, allowing us to begin pay-as-you-go sales of our most popular product. This new innovation will help us get lamps and cell phone chargers to the most remote communities in Namibia and will allow our entrepreneurs to greatly expand their reach and to help spread the gift of light. We have also grown our network of entrepreneurs to include over 60 individuals in eight regions. This incredible network has the potential to reach over 80% of the rural population in the country. Our Regional Sales Mangers and Senior Regional Sales Managers continue to do an amazing job of increasing awareness of the importance of renewable energy and of informing shopkeepers of the value that can come from carrying higher quality solar products, like those offered by Elephant Energy. This year, Elephant Energy has impacted over 30,000 individuals and we hope to impact even more in 2015!
We recently heard a story about Linekenla, who purchased a light from Elephant Energy and is now able to complete household chores long after the sun goes down. He and his brothers use the light to cook and to do dishes after dark. Their family used to rely on paraffin wax candles for indoor lighting, but they had to stop using the candles because the fumes were so bad. Now that they have a Sun King Pro 2, they can cook, wash dishes and study safely in their home.
We also learned that one of our Regional Sales Managers was unable to take customer photos in December because the majority of her entrepreneurs are making sales in the most rural corners of Namibia and it's hard for her to collect stories and photos after the sales! While we would love to be able to share photos from these communities, I think it's important to think about the fact that we don't have these stories because of the extreme situations these families are living in...And yet, our entrepreneurs are able to reach them and to help them create safer, cleaner, more efficient homes.
We have bold wishes and dreams in 2015, but I'm confident that with your help, we will accomplish all we set out to accomplish! We know you have so many choices each time you make a gift and we are so grateful that you have chosen Elephant Energy as one of your gifts in 2014. We hope you will consider sharing our information with a friend, colleague or family member during this giving season; and we hope you will re-pledge your support for Elephant Energy in 2015.
Wishing you and your family the best in 2015. With light,
Julia Alvarez Executive Director
Wow, what a summer it's been! I'm currently settling in and readjusting to life in Denver after a wonderful month visiting our staff and programs in Namibia. Our team on the ground is doing amazing work and is growing everyday! Despite the fact that this project is not quite fully funded, we have increased our sales network dramatically and now have 37 energy entrepreneurs working with us to distribute clean, affordable and sustainable energy products throughout rural Namibia.
Thanks to your support, they are receiving training and being equipped with enough initial stock to jumpstart their entrepreneurial approach to energy sales. Our energy entrepreneurs work in six regions of Namibia and are responsible for helping us distribute hundreds of solar lamps each month. In addition to our standard products, this month we are very pleased to announce that our newest innovation, the diviLite–Elephant Energy's new take on pay-to-own solar–is now readily available in four of our regions, with expansion into the final two scheduled to occur in October or November. It is our hope that this new lamp, which will soon be joined by a pay-to-own version of the Sun King Pro 2 (our best selling and most popular light in Namibia), will greatly increase our reach to the most rural communities in Namibia. These new lamps offer financing schemes that allow customers to pay for products in installments as small as USD$2.50 a week for a period of eight weeks, at which point the lamp becomes "unlocked" and remains useable for the life of the lamp. We are thrilled about these new innovations and we will keep you informed as we continue to field test the products and perfect the financing process.
In the meantime, here are some stories from the field, illustrating the impact you are having in some of the most rural communities in Namibia:
First, Johana and Rauna are both second-year students at Rundu Vocational Training Centre (RVTC). They both saved money from their job placements in order to buy Sun King Pro 2 lamps so they are able to study in the event of power outages at the campus or during holidays, since their villages have no electricity.
Second, Martha, who is a happy supporter of Elephant Energy! She said she has a solar system at home that cost her NAD$2000.00 (roughly USD$200) from a local shop, but even this expensive system doesn't meet her needs! Martha's current system cannot charge cell phones, nor is it portable–which is problematic because Martha loves to travel. This summer, an Elephant Energy entrepreneur introduced her to the Sun King Pro 2, which she purchased, and Martha now says that: “now my demand is met by EE,“ and "now I can travel with my SKP2 in my hand bag where ever, whatever–providing lighting and charging cell phones."
Finally, I'd like to introduce Romanus. He used to rely on candles and batteries for lighting in the house and charging cellphones. According to Romanus, he used to spend a lot of money buying candles, batteries and even on charging his cell phone. In May 2014, he purchased his first Sun King Pro 2 from Veronica, an Elephant Energy entrepreneur, and since May he has saved twice the price of the SKP2! He used his savings to invest in buying two SKP2s, which he decided to give to his mother-in-law and to his sister-in-law, both of whom live deep in the off-grid area. He believes the lights are going to have major impacts on both of their lives. Romanus' main source of income is a disability grant from the government and he also has a small shop at home selling snacks.
Again, thank you for your ongoing support of and interest in our work. Your investment is going a long way towards reducing energy poverty in rural Namibia and we couldn't do what we do without you. We hope you will consider Elephant Energy as you make your yearend giving decisions and please feel free to share this report and our project information with your friends, family, colleagues and neighbors!
If you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out to me! Talk to you again soon.
Greeting, friends and supporters!
If you are at all like me, I imagine you are spending time each evening marvalling at and celebrating these late summer sunsets and the fact that we have light so long into the evenings. Think about how much you are able to get done in these long evenings–gardening, grilling, walking, working, studying, enjoying time with your family. Now think, for just a moment, about how different your life would be without these late evenings–or, without light in your home. This is the reality for so many people around the globe. People in the communities we partner with have no choice but to close businesses and stop studying early because of a lack of light. But with your support, we are impacting these communities, bringing clean, affordable light and changing lives! Since our last report, we have experienced some new developments. First, we bid an emotional farewell to Katie Murphy, our fearless leader, who retired from her position as Executive Director at Elephant Energy. Katie helped our programs launch, grow and become sustainable and we miss her! That said, my name is Julia and I could not be more proud to be serving as Elephant Energy's new Executive Director. Second, we welcomed a new Program Director to the Elephant Energy team. Chris Fry has joined us to oversee and manage our programs in both Namibia and the Navajo Nation. Reporting from Namibia as I write, Chris will re-join the Denver team in a matter of weeks. Third, with the help of funding from the United States Agency for International Development (and supporters like you!) we have started pilot testing a very exciting new technology in Namibia that we hope will truely revolutionize small-scale solar in our last-mile communities. We are very excited to see where this goes and we will keep you all posted.
Finally, no update would be complete without some stories from the field! Our photos below are of a happy Elephant Energy customer who makes around 500–600 Namibian dollars a week (US$46–55) by charging other peoples' cell phones at 5 Namibian dollars per home. Using his Sun King Pro 2, he can charge about 15–20 phones a week, and he is using this added income to supplement his family earnings. The next photo is of a Namibian student who can now study for school at home, under the light of the Sun King Pro 2 that his family purchased from an Elephant Energy sales agent. Finally, there is a photo of another Elephant Energy customer who uses her lamp to cook safely at home after finishing her job as a nurse.
As you can see, together we are impacting the economic, educational and health outcomes of rural poor customers throughout Namibia. We can't do what we do without you! Thank you for supporting our work, for telling your friends about us and for helping impact lives in Namibia.
P.S., If you live in the Denver area, we invite you to come celebrate a great year at our summer Barnraiser on July 23! More information can be found here: http://bit.ly/1gBDhWl
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.
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