This week saw the first Mamas from our groups becoming ‘Solar Sister Entrepreneurs’. Their new role entails marketing and selling solar lights in their communities and surrounding areas. It’s through a partnership with the organisation, Solar Sister, who run a programme where people are given sales advice and support to sell the lights – making homes safe from dangerous paraffin lamps and providing much needed income for families. The safety issue is a big one that we are only too aware of as we hear of children who get burnt when lamps fall over and candles burn out – the Kampala Fire Department told us that candles are the number one cause of fires in the city. Selling the solar lights also has the added advantage of empowering women, who often find themselves left out of financial decision making in the household.
We got the different Community Groups together and asked them to choose one Mama from amongst them who they thought had the skills and motivation to make a success of the venture. The women who were voted in were then trained in how to effectively sell the lights and find a good market, then given a bright orange T-shirt and encouraged to sell, sell, sell! Harriet who is part of our Family Centre staff was also trained as we are hoping this can develop to help make more money for families staying on the site.
We have already heard reports in the last few days of the Mamas excitedly marketing the lights in their communities to friends and neighbours, and we’ve heard of some people walking from other communities to come and buy a light. The Village Health Team Area Co-ordinator was even helping by promoting the Kasubi Solar Sister, Mama Salama, at an event that we were running to highlight the dangers of indoor air pollution.
We very much wish all the Mamas well as it will not only provide them money, but see homes become safer for children, who so often suffer burns due to unsafe lighting.