Lilian Wangeci is an ambitious energy entrepreneur with a passion for solar. She has recently tripled her sales of solar products and diversified her operations. But the path to success has not been plain sailing.
The idea for Lilian’s business came out of a challenge she was grappling with: how her family and neighbours could light their homes without kerosene lamps, which are costly and also have health impacts. Lilian thought that solar could be the solution. Supplying solar lanterns could save her and her neighbours money; she could generate income by selling to her family and neighbours; and hopefully turn her venture into a full-time business, making enough money to expand into selling solar home systems.
To start with, Lilian got a lot of interest and it seemed that demand for solar lamps was high. She quit her job and began selling solar lanterns in her village in Ngurubani, central Kenya. However, she faced two significant barriers.
said Godfrey Sanga, WIRE Programme Manager at Energy 4 Impact.
As Sunking sales officers, the women can now obtain products without having to make any upfront payment. The Sunking PAYG system accepts repayments from customers over an agreed period of time - typically six months. The products can be monitored and controlled remotely in order to manage the risk of non-repayments.
To raise awareness of the benefits of solar energy and help to build consumer interest for Lilian and the other sales officers, Energy 4 Impact and the supply companies hold events and roadshows in local villages. Energy 4 Impact also provided business and financial skills, empowerment, and leadership training and tools to support the women sales agents and entrepreneurs.
It looks as if Lilian will turn her business dreams into reality, thanks to the advice and support from Energy 4 Impact. Her sales have more than tripled in the last four months and she has diversified into rearing chicks in a shed illuminated by solar energy and retailing improved charcoal cookstoves. She still hopes to open a shop selling solar products and to expand her business into the supply of solar water pumping and water heating systems to schools, health facilities and hotels.