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Klaus Esterluß | Ideas

Renting or buying – A difficult decision!

“Take a gap year and save the planet!” This could be the motto of the Kenyan based organisation “Ecofinder”. Founded in 1995 the Kenyan grass roots organisation helps communities around Lake Victoria to lead a more sustainable life. GLOBAL IDEAS has invited Nicolas, one of Ecofinder’s numerous volunteers, to write about his experience:

As a volunteer one of my main tasks is the so called “green energy promotion”. Here I try to drive the distribution of solar lamps forward. In this field we are running two different projects. The first one is called “Right Light”, it gives users of sooty kerosene lanterns the opportunity to rent a solar lamp over night for a very low price. So they don’t need to buy more expensive, health and environment damaging kerosen. The second project we call “Villageboom.” Here we encourage people to buy solar lamps as an investment in their future.

The major difference both is obvious, a person is either the owner of a solar lamp or the person rents the lamp.  Both have advantages and disadvantages. For example: Almost everybody can afford the rent of one solar lamp for one night (about 9 Euro Cent). Another positive aspect is that the person who rents does not bear a risk if the lamp fails and is broken. But by possessing a solar lamp users can save a lot more money, because the sun will charge their lamp for free every day. Unfortunetaly for most of the people without electricity a good solar lamp is still very expensive.

In the long run renting a lamp will be more expensive than buying one. After one year of renting a lamp the rent will equal the value of buying a lamp twice. In conclusion I think installment payments are the best solution for poorest who are looking for a clean and cheap light. Therefore it could be very interesting and succesful to combine both concepts. For example our Solar Lamp Entrepreneurs-SLE could offer to their customers to buy a solar lamp bit by bit and not at once.

I’ll keep you updated how our solar lamp distribution is going on in future. But if you have any idea, suggestion or proposal about this issue feel free to comment and to share your thoughts.

In your opinion: “What is the best way to enable as much people as possible a solar lamp?”

Date

March 27, 2013

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Global Ideas Reporter | Ideas

What’s the Ecofinder “SLE-MEETING”?

Photo credit: Nicolas KawerauIf you read my last posts, you may figure out the solution by yourself. “SLE” is an abbreviation for our successful program “Solar Lamp Entrepreneurs.” These entrepreneurs charge their solar lamps every day and rent them out each night. Their customers don’t have access to electricity. They come regularly to rent the lamps and even order them in advance to ensure they get one of the much sought-after gadgets.

The reason for the huge demand is quite simple – the solar lamps are brighter, cheaper and, most importantly, safer than the commonly used kerosene lamps. That allows children to read, learn or do their homework even late in the evening. But the lamps also help their parents since they make it easier to work at night and perhaps earn more money for the family.

At the end of last year, we organized our SLE-Meeting. The aim was to give our SLEs the chance to share their experiences and to get more people involved in the project. Of course, it was also great that our new potential SLEs could learn directly from the more experienced ones. It was very interesting to hear what they had to say, both good and bad. In one worst case, someone’s solar panel had been stolen while charging the lamp. On the other hand, one of our Solar Lamp Entrepreneurs has already employed someone to reach out to more people in other areas. Overall, the meeting was a success.  Four new SLEs were added to the solar lamp rental project. Each of them got ten lamps as a loan. That means we distributed 40 lamps and, in addition, some of the more experienced SLEs bought new lamps. So the number of solar lamps in this project increased to 200.

We are proud of this number and want to raise it further in 2013. But personally, I want to focus more on selling the solar lamps directly to customers. That’s because for them, the solar lights bring the most financial benefits if they own the lamps themselves.

More about this issue the next time.

Date

January 29, 2013

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Klaus Esterluß | COP18

Loch Ness meets green power

Ministers                                                                                                                    Author: Kerstin Schnatz

Scotland is one of the few nations in the world to have a Minister of Climate Change. We met Paul Weelhouse today at the World Climate Summit 2012 where he discussed the global energy mix of the future. While Qatar, represented by it’s Minister of Energy and Industry, counts heavily on natural gas, Scotland takes a differnt turn. Even though Scotland still is the biggest producer of oil and gas in the European Union and wants to keep this role, the country aims to run on 100% renewables by 2020. To reach this ambitious goal, lots of money and manpower are invested already. Even the mystic sea-monster Nessie takes part in the Scottish developement – but hear and see for yourself.

Paul Wheelhouse, Scottish Minister for Environment an Climate Change @WCS from DW_Global Ideas on Vimeo.

Date

December 3, 2012

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Klaus Esterluß | Ideas

No tough stuff from “Tough Stuff”!

“Take a gap year and save the planet!” This could be the motto of the Kenyan based organisation “Ecofinder”. Founded in 1995 the Kenyan grass roots organisation helps communities around Lake Victoria to lead a more sustainable life. GLOBAL IDEAS has invited Nicolas, one of Ecofinder’s numerous volunteers, to write about his experience:

What do you need for a succesful small-scale solar lamp business?

There are two important things:

First: Highly motivated and convinced people who know that what they are doing will improve their lives and help to protect the environment. And second: Affordable solar lamps of good quality and longlivety.

Ecofinder started his solar lamp projects with 80 “Tough stuff” lamps. But unfortunately we had problems with faulty lamps after just three months. Our “Solar Lamp Entrepreneurs” could not rent as half as much lamps as before. Their business were in danger.

We changed the lamp trade mark. Our new lamps are from “Sun King”. The lamp’s quality is much better. They more or less rescued the project. It was possible to increase the number of solar lamps. At the moment 140 solar lamps from Ecofinder are used in areas around Kisumu nearby the Lake Victoria and the number is rising.

Because of the problems we had with the old lamps, we started buying lamp kits that have to be assambled. Organizing this is my task at the moment. We want to establish a Solar Lamp Workshop where employees learn to assemble the final lamp.

That would create more positive impacts on the community:
Not only we can offer affordable lamps, we would also offer new jobs for unemployed people. In conclusion it is possible to provide more and more people with solar lamps. Furthermore it would be obvious for everyone that eventually broken lamps could be fixed in the workshop.

I hope that my task, the workshop, will be reality in future.

Date

October 22, 2012

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Klaus Esterluß | Ideas

“Green” Light for Lake Victoria

“Take a gap year and save the planet!” This could be the motto of the Kenyan based organisation “Ecofinder”. Founded in 1995 the Kenyan grass roots organisation helps communities around Lake Victoria to lead a more sustainable life. GLOBAL IDEAS has invited one of Ecofinder’s numerous volunteers to write about his experience:

 A lot of people especially in developing countries have no acess to electricity. That’s why most of them use kerosene lamps for at least a little bit light at night. But this is quite dangerous because of the open fire and it’s unhealthy for the people because of the smoke. Therefore Ecofinder started a very interesting project, the “Solar Lamps Rentals”, in March 2012.

The project’s idea and structure is quite simple but very efficient:
After a training about small-scale business and solar lamps, Ecofinder provides a new “Solar Lamps Entrepreneur” with a starter pack of 10 solar lamps. Now he can rent them every night to his local customers and charge them during the daytime. The only condition is that he will pay back 25% of his income to Ecofinder until the lamps are paid off and that the price for the lamps a night is below the local common price for kerosene lamps.

With the earned money Ecofinder is able to spread the solar lamps project and to buy new lamps for new entrepreneurs. One of my first tasks was to put the repayment’s bookkeeping in order and to assign it to an excel-softcopy. After this office work I could visit and meet all our eight “Solar Lamps Entrepreneurs”. I asked them about their running business, problems, wishes and how much solar lamps they would need more to provide the demand of all customers. The response on the last question was clearly. The market for affordable solar lamps is huge. It’s environmental friendly and you can even earn your own money with the rentals. A perfect project combination of ecological and economic aspects.

But you can imagine, it is’nt everyhing perfect from the very beginning. We have also some problems, more information the next time.

Date

October 13, 2012

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