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Thinking for a cooler world

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?”


March 27, 2013