In April 2015, GLOW partnered with Sun Transfer Ethiopia to provide portable solar lights to 250 households (over 1,000 people) in the rural village of Kelina, Ethiopia.
Leaders of each household were required to present a fee of 15% of the total cost of the light. This amount was a deposit that secured their space in the program, and it was used to open a savings account in their name.
Although we did not require members to pay back the total cost of the light, we still held a financial planning course which all recipients were required to attend in order to receive the light.
This course broke down the amount they were spending on kerosene for light in relation to their salary. We showed them how if they continually deposited this same amount into their newly opened savings account, then they would be able to pay off the light easily within 6 months.
The idea was to encourage savings so that people were financially responsible for technical support they might need with the product down the line, or to buy a whole new light altogether without continually relying on donations.
This project was implemented by GLOW’s founder, Kayla Nielsen, as well as a local college student (Bedane Goben) who was born and raised in Kelina before earning his way to University.Kayla and Bedane managed to distribute all 250 lights within the first three days of their month-long stay in the village. The remaining weeks were dedicated to providing support, answering questions, and/or fixing any malfunctions with the donated products.
Kayla has a degree/vocational background in education, and is also a certified yoga instructor. By request of Kelina’s schoolteachers, she taught daily English lessons in each classroom, and led yoga classes for the children and adults, as well.
By the end of the month, each family was interviewed regarding their feedback on the solar product thus far. Every single household agreed that the greatest benefit of receiving this light was the newfound increase in weekly savings.