TanzSolar Update – November 2010 TanzSolar is the only Tanzanian organization that is effectively reaching rural villagers in Tanzania with quality solar products. The poorest segment of the population here is benefiting greatly through the introduction of solar lighting in their homes. Thanks to you, our donors, for making it possible for us to sell these lights at a price the villagers can afford. The TanzSolar crew is going out to surrounding villages for their monthly market day several times each week. We have a list of 20 village markets with an average distance from Musoma Town of about 65 km. This is a time-consuming effort, expensive in fuel and vehicle costs as well as employee expenses. On average we only sell a few lights at each market, although this is increasing as they get to know the products and to trust our organization. TanzSolar is the only vendor they have ever dealt with that offers a warranty, repairs and service. Most of the products available here are very low quality while ours are very high quality. TanzSolar has distributed over 4,000 solar lights throughout the Lake Zone of Tanzania since our first container of equipment was delivered in December 2008.
The first year was very slow as we learned about the market and determined how villagers of very limited means were able and/or willing to pay for this new product. As they have gained experience with our products the demand has grown very quickly, and most recently we have sold as many as 400 lights/month. We are limited by the amount of money we can raise to subsidize the price. If we raise the price we see that sales drop off dramatically as the village residents just cannot come up with enough money to cover the actual cost of the quality solar lights, even though they will be saving the cost of the light in reduced kerosene purchases over just a few months. With an income of less than $300/year the upfront cost is still prohibitive, even if it is only $40. TanzSolar is working on educating villagers about solar electric products while at the same time we are offering products for sale. As the residents in these small villages come to accept and demand solar products rather than the expensive, polluting and hazardous kerosene lanterns the market will grow. As people benefit economically from reduced expenses as a result of using solar energy rather than kerosene, their willingness and ability to pay for these products will increase. And as the price of solar products continues to decline, it will hopefully not be long before this will be a natural market where subsidies are not required. For now, however, the work we are doing, often referred to as social marketing, is necessary. This is a transitional time when the world is learning a new way of providing support to the developing countries in a sustainable and socially responsible way, not simply giving handouts. We are proud to be a part of that, and thank you for making our work possible.
Global Giving August 2010 Update
Work is continuing in Tanzania with TanzSolar staff and associates going to the villages and selling lights at the reduced price afforded by Global Giving support. We are continuing to sell and/or install an average of 40 solar-electric LED lighting systems per week.
TanzSolar is honored to announce that we have been awarded a grant of approximately $30,000 by the Tanzanian Rural Energy Agency (REA). With their support we anticipate reaching out to thousands of additional villagers. These grant funds will support travel and equipment purchases and will complement the funds raised through Global Giving, which are used exclusively to reduce the price of the solar lighting systems to the villagers. In combination we anticipate greatly accelerated sales in the final quarter of 2010, with a target of 3000 additional lighting system sales by the end of the year.
We continue to get very enthusiastic feedback from the villagers who are using these lights. We have had very few warranty claims, even though we are placing these lights in a very harsh environment. Any faulty products or broken parts are repaired or replaced by TanzSolar, usually at our cost.
Thank you for your support. You are bringing light to the world and creating an environment that supports the education of Tanzanians, young and old while generating goodwill towards the United States.
The funds raised through the Global Giving website from US donors have allowed us to greatly expand the reach of our program. We give our sincere thanks to all of you who are supporting our work and helping families in Tanzania to purchase their first electric light and their first solar panel.
With these funds we have been able to reduce the price of hundreds of solar lighting systems by 50%. This reduction has enabled many village families to purchase a system. They simply could not come up with the money to invest in these systems at the original price, which was at our cost. During March and April we held a half-price sale using your donations. Our market research indicated that this was the price where many people could afford the systems, and we were very pleased to verify this. Nearly 1,000 homes were equipped with solar lighting during this promotion. This is as many lights as we sold in the entire previous year.
TanzSolar worked with Juasolar staff to build a shade structure and to step up our efforts to reach as many village markets as possible. We have a list of 15 of the larger village markets that we are attending on a regular basis in an effort to educate as many villagers as possible. We also have representatives going to schools and religious institutions to spread the word about the solar lights. These lights are an ideal first solar product for the rural populations since they are about the lowest cost way to get high-quality solar LED light.
TanzSolar staff and all of the villagers we serve thank you very much for your support.
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Tanzania, United Republic of
Board Member, Executive Director
Tanzania, United Republic of