Solar power will boost business for Kenes

Access to modern energy for household and small enterprises is very limited in Malawi.  Less than 10% overall have electricity, and this falls to 1% in some remote areas.

Currently, Malawi gets over 90% of its total energy from biomass according to the World Bank access to electricity report, 2014. Most villages rely on kerosene lamps and candles for lighting, which is expensive for Malawians who live in poverty.

The best way to bring access to electricity to the rural population is through the provision of solar power which will ensure socio-economic development in the country’s poorest areas.  This explains why Environment Africa in partnership with Practical Action is implementing a four year Sustainable Energy for Rural Communities project funded by the European Commission. The project aims to provide access to clean energy in Chikwawa district.

Kenes Piseni is 39 and is married with five children and lives in Chipula village and is among the 10,000 beneficiaries of SE4RC in Chikwawa District. Kenes has run a shop since 1993. He has faced a number of challenges, often having to stop work early because of the lack of electricity and having to rely on expensive kerosene lamps and candles for lighting as he makes more sales during the night than in the day.

When the SE4RC project installs solar power in Mwalija it will boost his business because he will be able to extend his selling period from 6.00 pm to 10.00 pm and so make more profit.

Kenes had this to say;
I am optimistic that this solar power project will surely change my living standards. I am sure if it is constructed and installed in my village it will boost my business. I will buy my own solar panel from the energy kiosk which will provide electricity to power my fridge. I will sell soft drinks which is gold during hot season."

"This will also give me an opportunity to venture into other businesses such video shows and barbershop. I will therefore generate enough income for my family. I will use the proceeds to buy food, pay school fees for my children and build a more decent house. I am seeing a prosperous life for my family. This project will indeed bail us out of dire poverty."

As part of the project, Kenes has been trained in marketing and business management. He is using the knowledge and skills obtained to boost his business. He no longer relies on middlemen to get groceries for his shop. He now has the confidence to go direct to suppliers. He says this training has been a real eye opener for him.

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