Across sub-Saharan Africa, 590 million people live without electricity. Grid expansion has struggled to keep pace with population growth. In the absence of reliable energy, people’s health, safety and productivity suffer. FINCA’s BrightLife is launching new and innovative products in 2018 to accelerate progress in off-grid energy and help customers increase opportunities to earn an income.
In the first half of the year, BrightLife introduced new solar home systems that offer upgradable home lighting and appliance solutions. This means customers can add additional lights, a radio and even a television without having to purchase a new system. This revolutionary, modular design makes it possible for poor families to climb the energy ladder. An updated electricity-generating cookstove was also released, offering greater cooking efficiency and smoke reduction.
But that’s not all. In the second half of 2018, BrightLife is partnering with FINCA Uganda to test ultra-affordable solar-powered productive use assets for agricultural loan clients. These products include water pumps and maize grinders, and are designed for income-generation.
Water pumps will enable clients to irrigate their crop fields and potentially double their yields. Currently, only 16 percent of farmland in Africa is irrigated and some 300 million people live in water-scarce areas. Solar-powered water pumps can reduce crop failures, increase productivity and grow diversified crop income for smallholder farmers.
Maize grinders will save families time and money, and provide a new income stream. More than half of smallholder farmer production is in maize and the average family spends nearly six percent of its monthly expenses on maize grinding. A farmer may travel up to four hours round trip in search of maize grinding services. By offering affordable maize grinders powered by solar energy, BrightLife is giving maize farmers a better opportunity to grow their businesses and improve their families’ quality of life.
It is expected that the income gains from the water pumps and maize grinders will offset product costs within the first year. Then, 100 percent of the profits may be invested into the customer’s business and her family.
BrightLife’s success is founded on flexible credit options for customers and strong partnerships with leading manufacturers of high-quality products designed for low-income people in the developing world. To date, BrightLife has impacted tens of thousands of lives in Uganda with its clean energy products.