Johana and Rauna, showing off their lights!
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.
Martha, happy with her new all-in-one solar light
Romanus and his light