Light Up Rural Zambia

Light Up Rural Zambia: Scale Access to Solar Lamps in Rural & Slum Communities of Zambia

Chipata, ZambiaChipata, Zambia
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Energy Poverty is pervasive in rural and slum communities of Chipata District, Provincial Capital of Eastern Province of Zambia.

89% of the population is not connected to electricity and still using traditional energy sources that contribute to global warming


WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if One Solar Lamp can put a smile on school going children & save income for One family; What if we do it for 1 Million more families?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

89% of the population in Chipata District is not connected to electricity. Almost all depend on Kerosene to for lighting. Each of these kerosene lantern releases a ton of carbon dioxide smoke every year, contributing to global warming, and creating risk of burns, pneumonia, bronchitis, and lung cancer. The lamps are too dim for good reading and kerosene purchases eat up family income. Solar lanterns solve these problems: They are safe.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

We have developed a distribution system for clean energy technology to ensure adaptation where it matters most, energy poor households. Many of the people in rural and slum communities are living on less than $2 a day and for them to own a solar lantern is but a dream! We will set up Solar Charging Stations to run a Rent to Own business model in rural and slum communities so that everyone in the community can manage to own a solar lantern through paying in installment. The community members will be required to register at the Solar Charging Station and will be given a solar lantern. They will be allowed to pay in 3-6 months installment after which they will own the solar lantern. The Solar Stations will also create employment.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Mary lives in a rural community and uses kerosene lantern every day. she can't afford to buy a solar lamp on cash payment. She visits a solar charging station and registers. she is given a solar lamp without a panel and she pays the same amount she used to pay for kerosene purchase. She has a contract of 3 months after which, the solar charging stations hands her the panel and she can charge from her home. She now saves more from mobile phone charging and her children can now study using a bright light, giving them an opportunity to qualify for High school and university. She also has an opportunity to start a phone charging business with her solar lamp. she can now save and make extra money.Her children are happy and the sky is the limit

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

The project is an impact social enterprise . As a market based program, economic benefits of the program will be directly measured through systemized data collection on the number of of Solar Charging stations established, sales generated, total beneficiaries, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions mitigated and total kerosene use displaced by the use of solar lamps and complementing services like mobile phone charging. The hard numbers will be supplemented with qualitative interviews with Station Managers and their customers to monitor the overall impact of the program as well as the success or failures of Station Managers to improve our processes where needed. In our first 3 months we will create 3 employment for station managers who will sale 500 solar lamps. In 6 months our sales projections will be 1,300 solar lamps. A total of 7,334 lamps will be sold in a one year period.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

The Project will be a network of micro- entrepreneurs and station managers. One of the features of building a network is the flexibility to scale operation. We will develop a recruiting/training/support program that will allow us to expand into new communities efficiently and effectively. In the first year, we will operate in Chipata District. With a population of 455,783 of which over 300,000 have no access to electricity, this will help us reach greater market coverage. We will build a sustainable business that will generate sufficient income to support operations to deliver impact.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

The Project has a self sustainability plan. Once the seed funding is secured, the Project will generate revenue from sale of solar lanterns. The revenue raised from the sale of solar lanterns will be enough to establish more Solar Charging Stations in rural and slum communities and and engage the micro entrepreneurs to go and distribute these solar lanterns in their communities. What the idea needs is seed capital and it will impact millions!

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Currently we have two companies working in the energy sector. Solar Money and Muhanya Solar distribute solar lanterns to clients in slum and urban communities. There distribution model only benefits middle class people. They sale on cash basis, excluding the 89% who live on less than $2 to fail and pay for this life saving product. Our distribution model is unique because it targets the most vulnerable people in communities who have less income to own a clean energy lamp at a cost equal to what they use on kerosene. We are the only Project to run a Energy Rent to Own Model! Very Unique!

Founding Story

I have worked as a Program Director for Mustard Seed Fund for 5 years. I have been involved in various community projects which involves field visits and numerous interactions during baseline survey, group discussions and community trainings. In Most cases, the communities treat us as visitors, and so traditionally the women are charged with the responsibility of preparing for us some meals. During these times, i have been saddened by the situation at the cooking area. The smoke from the kitchen over the open fire, and this is what they undergo every day in their homes. In addition, every day we constantly meet women and young girls carrying firewood or bottle of kerosene for lighting!


The Project is part of Le Investment Group, a Social Enterprise Company that works to turn ideas into reality. The Group currently has one running social enterprise, working to empower women and it has been recognized by the government of the Republic of Zambia as a social enterprise that has the potential to end poverty in rural communities. The Founder and CEO, Mr. Francis Mbewe is a seasoned Social Entrepreneur, holding a First Degree in Development Studies, Diploma in Micro Finance Management, Diploma in Project Management & Rural Development and he is a Fellow at Engineers Without Borders (EWB) -Kumvana Program as a system change champion for Zambia. He has toured 95% of Rural Zambia in Eastern Province and knows when the project will be a success or a failure. On His advisory Team, he has the following people: Rev. Alexander M. Mbewe: He Holds a Masters from Eastern University USA and he is a promoter of social enterprise in Eastern Province. He is the General Overseer of the Pilgrim Wesleyan Church, Eastern Mission with over 50 local churches in rural communities. Mr. Mike Mwale: He holds a Diploma in Accountancy and a First Degree in law. He is currently working with the Judiciary in Eastern Province as a magistrate. He has a passion for rural development and advises on the legal part and financial We currently have a pool of mentors and advisors from Engineers without Borders Canada who will provide the much needed advise and expertise to see to it that the project is a success once launched. We are positive that this is the best opportunity and time to give hope to rural and slum communities and also end energy poverty.