Promote Renewable Energy Shops in Rural Namibia

by Elephant Energy
Rural Partner Shop
Rural Partner Shop

     In SiLozi, Katima Mulilo means “to put out the fire,” a reference to the strong winds and currents in the Zambezi that would extinguish the flames of torches when crossing the river via makolo (dugout canoe).  While most people now cross between Zambia and Namibia at Katima Mulilo on the new bridge, Elephant Energy is carrying on the tradition of “putting out the fire” by replacing of candles, kerosene lanterns, and cooking fires with solar-powered lights and clean-burning cookstoves.  In the first three months of 2011, with the funding you provided via Global Giving, Elephant Energy distributed over 450 solar-powered lights via our Elephant Energy Shop in Katima Mulilo.  And the best part is that your donation will keep on giving.  We run our shop in Katima as a sustainable business, so instead of handing out lights for free, rural Namibians invest their own money in their energy future, ensuring that our storeroom remains stocked and ready to meet the needs of thousands more rural people this year.

     However, to build-out our energy distribution network in the Caprivi Region we must stock each of our nine new partner shops with energy products.  While we have enough stock to provide a few varieties of solar-power lights to these shops, our network of rural entrepreneurs is clamoring for solar-powered cell phone chargers.  And who can blame them?  In some areas where we work, the nearest electric outlet is 30 miles away!  We need to raise the final $2,350 in funding for the Elephant Energy Shops project on Global Giving so that we can provide solar-powered cell-phone chargers to the Sibbinda Mini Grocery Shop, the Mashi Craft Centre, Tusano Shop, Ami a Bakando, Get Lucky, Kanono Bottle Store, Bukalo Better Price Shop, Bicycles for Humanity – Ngoma, and God Knows Shop.  Please donate $10 (or more) and help us reach more rural Namibians:

     Thank you again for helping Elephant Energy put out the fire and turn on the lights in the Caprivi Region.

Doug with kids in Masida
Doug with kids in Masida


Annah Simbilu and the Energy Shop
Annah Simbilu and the Energy Shop

Hello from Katima Mulilo, Namibia!

Thanks to you, 350 more families (and counting) have access to clean renewable energy in rural Namibia. Our first Elephant Energy Shop, funded by your Global Giving donation, has sold over 100 solar-powered lights and other appropriate sustainable energy technologies per month since its grand opening in October 2010.  Elephant Energy DOES NOT hand out energy products for free.  Instead, we work with rural Namibians to enable them to afford our energy products, like solar-powered lights, clean cookstoves, and crank radios, at prices ranging from $15-$35.  Elephant Energy Shop customers make a conscious decision to invest in their own energy future, instead of receiving handouts from an international aid organization.  In this way, your donation keeps on giving, as income from energy product sales is used to buy additional energy products to benefit the over 50,000 people in the Caprivi Region, and one million people across Namibia, without access to electricity.  Please donate HERE and help us raise the last $4,000 we need to complete Phase I of the Elephant Energy Shops Project:

While the success of the first Elephant Energy Shop is heartening, there is still much work to do.  Over the next four months, our two American volunteers in Namibia, including Colin Manasse and Doug Vilsack (me), and two Namibian staff members, Joseph Ziezo and Annah Simbilu, will carry our energy technologies further into the bush and make them accessible to the many people that struggle to save money to meet their energy needs.  First, we will partner with numerous existing shops and rural entrepreneurs in the Caprivi Region to ensure that every person in Caprivi lives within 20 miles of an Elephant Energy sales outlet.  Next, we will implement a rent-to-own program to allow rural Namibians to pay off energy products over a period of six months, allowing them to pay less each month than they would typically spend on candles, kerosene or other energy alternatives.  Finally, we will work through our Women’s Energy Project (WE Project) to develop a strategy for sales by the nine women’s groups we have established in the Kwandu Conservancy, Namibia and Mbala, Zambia areas.

In the next two months, Elephant Energy will also release extensive reports detailing the successes and difficulties of our various projects in Namibia and on the Navajo Reservation in the United States, including our 2010 Elephant Energy Shops Field Report, 2010 Navajo Solar Light Project Field Report, and Women’s Energy Project Report.  Please donate and help us raise the last $4,000 to complete Phase I of the Elephant Energy Shops Project (Donate here: and be on the lookout for Elephant Energy’s Field Reports in the coming weeks.  Thank you again for your support. 


Joseph Ziezo at the Energy Shop
Joseph Ziezo at the Energy Shop
Customer at the Energy Shop
Customer at the Energy Shop


Dear Friends,

You made it possible. This month, Elephant Energy will open our first Elephant Energy Shop in Katima Mulilo, Namibia, which will be stocked with over 1500 solar-powered lights, radios, and cell phone chargers purchased as a result of your donation during the Global Giving Green Challenge. This Elephant Energy Shop, managed by our new shopkeeper Annah Simbilu, will change the lives of thousands of Namibians who will no longer be forced to rely on candles, kerosene and other dirty fuels for light. Here is one LARGE example of how access to these revolutionary technologies will change lives:

Life Without Light:

“One night, I was guarding my fields with my husband. The children and a small dog were sleeping near the fire. The small dog barked once and we were afraid. We knew there was an elephant right there, but there was nothing we could do. We lighted the fire and beat the drums, but the elephant was coming towards our children. This time, the elephant ran away. We wish we had a torch to scare away the elephant in the night.” - Kopelo Manstah, Sabelo Village, Sobbe Conservancy, Namibia

Life With Light:

“I go help my neighbors when they call. I have to use the torch on my way to help them. They [Elephants] immediately get scared when I shine my torch.” - Davis Naloumangosianga, Wildlife Policeman in Mbata, Zambia

From October 12-21st, Global Giving is matching all donations to Elephant Energy and other participating organizations through the Give More, Get More Matching Campaign. Global Giving will add 30% more if you donate $10-$499, 40% more for $500-$999 donations and 50% more for $1,000-$2,500 donations. Elephant Energy is only $4,805 dollars from completing our fundraising for the initial phase of the Elephant Energy Shops Project. Matching funds will run out well before October 21st (maybe even on the first day), so please donate TUESDAY, OCTOBER 12th and help us reach our final goal!

Donate Here:

Look for another update soon about the grand opening of the Elephant Energy Shop and our Buy One Give One Holiday Sale, which will give you the chance to purchase one of our revolutionary solar lights during the holiday season and donate one to a rural entrepreneur in Namibia at the same time.



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Organization Information

Elephant Energy

Location: Denver, CO - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Elephant Energy
Project Leader:
Katie Murphy
Executive Director
Denver, Colorado United States

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