SDFA-Kenya seeks out communities that are below the poverty line and have limited access to electricity. Most people in these villages rely on kerosene lanterns as their only source of lighting. Kerosene is both dangerous and expensive. When solar lanterns are used in place of kerosene, families are safer and are able to save money that can be used towards other necessities.
SDFA-Kenya seeks to establish youth resource center that will enable youth with informal education be trained on both technical and vocational skills that can be used within the facility to enable them to be self-dependent, and be active participants in development efforts of their own communities. The resource center will have basic tools and equipment where youth will:
- Make solar lamps and other renewable energy products.
- Utilize their skills to make other products in metalwork, woodwork, learn agribusiness, design, arts etc , which they can sell to earn a living from.
The MwangaBora lamps made by the youth are then distributed to women in the area, and the women trained on micro-enterprise development. The women are then guided to set up income generating ventures. The women then use the proceeds from the income ventures to pay for subsequent lamps. They also use the income ventures to as collateral to access further financing.
In order to ensure the best chance of success, SDFA-Kenya looks to women’s groups that already exist within the village fabric. The women are familiar with each other and trust each other, a key element to the model’s success. The women pool their savings together and it grows as a group. Once the savings has grown enough to be put to use, the group decides on what kind of economic venture is best for them. This is largely based on what the main economic activities are in the area. For some it is agriculture, for some retail shop. Whatever the group decides, SDFA-Kenya does not interject, but rather provides guidance on how likely the venture would be successful and how to best go about its creation and management. The women in the group have control over the process at all times, empowering them to take risks and make decisions. Using the group method helps to ensure that the women are not tempted to spend the savings on other things such as food, water, medical expenses, school fees, or any other of the array of daily needs that the poor are faced with. By accepting the lanterns and agreeing to participate in the group, the women must contribute their savings to the group.
Eventually, the groups of women are able to use the income generating ventures as collateral to access further financing, which they use to expand the business or start new business.
So, SDFA-Kenya is able to help communities turn the dirty kerosene into opportunities (honey).