SunnyMoney Microsolar Project
Many households in Africa have a kerosene lamp, which means there are 100-200 million kerosene lamps across the continent for a population of just Under one billion. SolarAid/SunnyMoney’s proposed solution in Malawi, was to convert or replace these kerosene lamps using solar products that have been developed.
Project monitoring process
- Two narrative and financial reports, including one final report
- Field visit by Luc Bonnamour in November 2011
- Final independent evaluation
Overview of the objectives
- Reduction or elimination of kerosene consumption in rural and peri-urban Malawi
- Measurable improvements in living conditions and opportunities for local communities
- Training, support and creation of opportunities for local entrepreneurs
- Training of 80 entrepreneurs in order to create a sustainable network for the distribution of at least 9,000 affordable micro-solar lighting and energy solutions to replace existing inefficient and expensive kerosene-burning lanterns
- Generation of at least 8,000 carbon credits over ten years
Results and Indicators
- 94 entrepreneurs were trained (118%)
- 5,551 lights were distributed (62%)
- 90% of solar-powered light end-users interviewed on october 2012 had immediately changed their main lighting method to solar soon after buying a solar light, the 10% who didnʼt were connected to the national grid and bought solar lights as a back-up for power failure; the 90% previously used kerosene or candles.
- 100% of the solar light users indicated that having a solar light has generated income-earning opportunities
In November 2011, Luc Bonnamour drew the following conclusions from his field visit:
Solar Aid will have to clarify its strategy of action (initially targeted at the most disadvantaged groups) in view of growing demand for the solar lights from middle- and higher-income households. That said, the achievements of this project are already considerable. Solar Aid should, however, ensure that the project is conducted in a more structured and rigorous manner.
Sustainability of the actions undertaken
While the entrepreneurial component is likely to ensure the project’s sustainability, only an ex-post visit will enable the viability of the system that has been set up to be confirmed.
Recommandation & Conclusions of the decembre 2012 final evaluation
The following are the significant recommendations to SunnyMoney/SolarAid.
1. Background Checks:
It is recommended that SunnyMoney conduct background checks on the trainees for the Micro-franchise program to minimise the default rates as well as to ensure project success. These checks should include previous business record, credit, character and criminal records.
2. Build Strong Partnership:
SunnyMoney should continue to seek out new partnerships which will drive the causes for the project in raising funds, expanding coverage, and refining the business model.
3. Service/Partnership Agreements:
SunnyMoney should consider entering into service agreements to formalize the project activities as well as to enforce the tenets of the project. A Service Level Agreement (SLA) would record a common understanding about services, priorities, responsibilities, guarantees, and warranties.
There is need to ensure availability of products to meet the demand for the product.
5. Repairs and Replacements:
There is need to speed the repair and replacement times for broken and default products. There is need to put in place local-level light repair centres, staffed by appropriately skilled technicians. This will help to provide exemplary after-sales care and help to build trust in solar products as a worthwhile, money saving investment.
6. Sales and Distribution
There is need to build a strong marketing, sales and distribution network to ensure continuous availability of high quality products.
7. Solar Products Public Awareness Campaigns
There is need to raise awareness on the use of solar products as well as the disadvantages of using kerosene burnt lights.
8. Social Marketing
There is need to engage in intensive marketing and advertising the solar products with targeted public relations campaigns that will capitalize on the brand and product awareness.
9. Target Market
At the moment, Malawi has an inflationary economy so there is need to reconsider the target market for the products for within a short period of time they have become expensive and unaffordable for the low income earners.
The evaluation findings largely showed that progress has been achieved in the implementation of the project activities, hence overall rating is that substantial progress has been made in the specific objectives however there is still room for improvement in the project implementation.
Nevertheless, challenges still remain that continue to affect the acceleration of implementation of the project. The major factors include delays in funding, capacity issues in terms of numbers, and management improvements. SunnyMoney should ensure that these hindering factors are quickly addressed for the success of the organization. It is essential to keep in mind that in the implementation of the project, SunnyMoney cannot be all things to all the concerned parties. It is therefore necessary to focus on the most important issues first. SunnyMoney should continue to maintain the positive relations with the implementing partners.
Conclusion of the Ex-Post visit – June 2016
SolarAid is growing slowly in a complicated economic context due to money devaluation, successive floods and droughts and thus the decrease of the target population’s purchase power. Nevertheless, by working on multiple fronts, the team achieves to sell more than 50 000 solar lamps per year.
However, some points could probably be improved for more efficiency and visibility. For instance :
- It could be interesting to motivate the area supervisors with a bonus or a variable salary component linked to the number of lamps sold in their area, and to build a structured marketing strategy with them to be more efficient.
- The retailer network seems to need a refresh on SunnyMoney’s organisation (contact person in the area, guarantee system, repairing, range of products, marketing, social commitment, …).
- Moreover, SunnyMoney as a brand, is totally invisible. It is important to provide the network with signboards, posters, T-shirts,… especially just before the harvest season, to be more visible but also to build the sense of belonging of the network agents.
Some of these points are already being considered in the new strategy SolarAid is implementing now and even if a lot depends on the money available, the organisation of the supply and marketing chain can probably be improved without a lot of investment.