Light and Livelihood for Women in Ethiopia with Little Sun and Solar Development

March 2018

On the first floor of the Dama Building, in the north western part of the city of Addis Ababa, we enter the base of the prime distributor in Ethiopia. Nabil Ishak is the managing director of Solar Developments Plc. After living in Australia for 10 years, Nabil moved back to his homeland and established the company Solar Developments in 2008. The mission of the company is to provide clean and sustainable energy for 80% of the population currently living without access to electricity in Ethiopia. Since its establishment, the company has grown to a dedicated and efficient team of 18 people and 73 widely distributed outlets around the country.

Nabil and his team started selling Little Suns back in 2016.  When it comes to distributing the Little Sun lamps what is most rewarding for Nabil is the triple changes that he can guarantee to the community. Change in the form of creation of jobs, increasing study time and reducing the health hazard of kerosene. Nabil does not see himself as just another businessman, but as someone who works towards bringing change to the community:

‘It is the multiple and connected results it has on the community, that motivates and drives me and my team.’

One of the many ways in which Solar Development is facilitating change is by empowering women. Micro franchising is a business model based on the traditional franchising concept common in developing countries. As part of GRAD (Graduations with Resilience to Achieve Sustainable Development), a five-year USAID-funded project designed to help the Government of Ethiopia find sustainable solutions to chronic food insecurity. The project supported households currently enrolled in the government’s Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) so that they could access microfinance, improve on- and off-farm productivity, and establish links to markets. In collaboration with Care Ethiopia, Solar Development is currently providing the Little Sun lamps for women in  the micro-franchise model, where women are engaged in the sales of the lamps in their communities to earn an off-farm income. This results in Solar Development and its partners providing training and job opportunities for 750 women in different parts of the country!  When a woman is given the chance to become her family’s breadwinner by selling the Little Sun lamps, she is not only supporting her family, but also providing for the whole community.

The shining story of providing livelihood for 750 women, who will make their living by selling Little Sun lamps door to door is only the beginning of the success story being written by the Solar Development plc and its partners and we are looking very much forward to the future adventures with Nabil and Solar Development plc!

Little Sun began working in Ethiopia in 2012, initially collaborating with the NGO Plan international Ethiopia to distribute the first Little Sun Original lamps through Village Savings and Loan (VSLA) groups in the Hawassa region. The VSLAs are community groups that create access to finance for all members by communally managing funds. In this way people could save money to purchase Little Sun lamps, an investment that will save them 90% over a 2-year period once they switch from toxic fuel-based lighting to solar power.

Do you want to learn more about Little Sun in Ethiopia? Check out our #SpotlightOn #Ethiopia campaign!

#SpotlightOn! In our new series, we get to know the countries Little Sun is working in – facts about culture, language, energy access and what Little Sun is actually doing there. Starting of course with the country where lots of Little Sun inspiration comes from…Ethiopia! Did you know that the inspiration for the Little Sun Original comes from Ethiopia? The Meskel flower or Adey Abeba is a yellow daisy that grows in the Ethiopian highlands at the end of the rainy season and just in time for the Ethioipian New Year in September. Stay tuned for more of our favorite bits and pieces from and about Ethiopia this month! Photo credit: Admassu Mammo #SpotlightOn #Ethiopia #ConnectedByTheSun #SE4All #solarpower #adeyabeba #meskelflower#africa #inspiration #artforgood #energy #sun

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Photo credits: Terhas Berhe & Desta Mahdere