SolarAid puts solar lanterns on course to rival mobile phones in Africa?
The charity’s retail brand SunnyMoney passes a quarter million sales, becoming lead retailer on the continent. Former Solarcentury CEO, and ex Sony MD, takes on role of SunnyMoney Chairman.
Nairobi, 27 February 2013. SolarAid, the charity born in 2006 with 5% of British solar company Solarcentury’s profits, believes it is on course to emulate mobile phone companies and Coca-Cola in finding a route to mass markets in Africa. Sales of solar lights by its wholly-owned social venture, SunnyMoney, will exceed 320,000 for 2012-13, taking 25% of the all-Africa market share in the last six months according to the World Bank’s Lighting Africa programme, beating 2011-12’s sales by over 600%. Total sales stand to date are very near 300,000, ahead of second-placed solar lantern retailer, oil giant Total.
SolarAid and SunnyMoney CEO Steve Andrews said: “We are filled with excitement at our prospects of achieving the hugely ambitious mission we have set ourselves: playing the lead role in eradicating the kerosene lantern from the continent by 2020. Explosively as our sales are growing, we have barely begun. Once we have secured the growth capital we need, including low-interest debt financing on a large scale, we’ll be able to accelerate our growth much more aggressively, bringing extraordinary change to the poorest people in Africa.”
A single solar lantern can save a household up to 40% of its annual expenditure by replacing use of kerosene. Research undertaken by SolarAid demonstrates that families buying a solar light from SunnyMoney save an extraordinary £74 per year, now they are no longer reliant on kerosene lanterns. They see their children study for an extra hour every night. They talk enthusiastically about these brighter, safer, fume-free lights, as BBC radio and TV coverage this week shows. A single solar light can also save a tonne of carbon dioxide emissions over its lifetime.
Taking the post of SunnyMoney chairman today, Derry Newman said: “Given the challenges SunnyMoney will face in growing and achieving its full potential, I am thrilled that I can apply my relevant experience both in consumer electronics as Sony UK Managing Director, and in solar, as Solarcentury’s CEO from 2007-2012, to such a terrific cause.”
Jeremy Leggett, founder and chairman of both Solarcentury and SolarAid, said: “This is a significant milestone in a long-running dream of mine: to create a fast-growing VC-backed cleantech company that aspires to do great good itself, but also via a fast-growing social venture of its own creation. SunnyMoney holds the potential to become a poster child for what I think of as a renaissance company – one fit for purpose amid the ruins of our broken modern form of capitalism. Crowdfunding at scale is just one of the innovations we hope to provide leadership on during the renaissance.”
SolarAid and SunnyMoney currently operate in four countries: Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia and Malawi.
For BBC coverage of SolarAid and SunnyMoney in the field see:
- BBC TV Newsnight on Monday 25th Februaryhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01r0xrz/Newsnight_25_02_2013/ 42 minutes in, UK residents only sadly.
- BBC Radio Costing the Earth on Tuesday 5th March.