Linet is a businesswoman on a mission. In the lively fishing village of Got Kachola on the Kenyan coast of Lake Victoria, Linet’s business is flourishing now that she is connected to the solar microgrid that takes pride of place in the centre of the community. It has been a year since Renewable World, with support from Comic Relief, installed the Energy Hub and trained the community how to make the most of their clean, cheap and reliable electricity. A paraffin lamp sits idly in the corner, gathering dust and no longer emitting its noxious fumes that causes burning eyes, scratchy throats and heavy lungs.
“Business is very good” she explains, whilst deftly plaiting the hair of her last client of the day. “With electricity, I can now offer my clients a blow-drying service and charge extra for this unique service”. She shows us her flame-red, low wattage hairdryer that she recently bought in Migori, a nearby town. Balancing the load is a key consideration for the committee that owns and manages the hub on behalf of its customers. And hairdryers are very juice-heavy.
“Since power has come to my business, my profits have trebled. I now also charge mobile phones for my clients while they wait, I charge 10 Kenyan Shillings per phone and this has become an additional business for me. This is good for me and for them.” With no power in the community, people had to send their phones with the local motor bike taxis to the closest town to get charged. This would cost them 100 shillings in taxi charges and another 10 shillings for the charging. By being able to charge phones at Linet’s shop it’s more than just Linet who are better off.
Linet sublets a corner of her shop to a seamstress and the light from the bulb allows both women to work as late as they like. “If someone wants their hair done at midnight, I can do it”. Being close to the equator the sun sets at 6.45pm so electricity is an important commodity to allow flexibility of work hours and even security at night.
As we left Linet with the beautiful blue hair, we couldn’t help but admire the determination and savviness needed to not just survive but thrive as a business woman in rural Kenya. Renewable World is proud to support the next generation of entrepreneurs, especially in villages that are often forgotten or ignored by government and the international community. With your support we can help many more Energy Pioneers in East Africa and other regions around the world.