Global roof window manufacturer Velux Group has delivered the first natural light solar lamps to African countries Senegal, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
The solar lamps were designed by Mariana Arando and Luca Fondello of the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, as part of the Velux Natural Light International Design Competition, which is in partnership with social business Little Sun and nongovernment organisation Plan International.
The design concept of the solar lamps is inspired by how light can bring people together and how several lamps can be connected to each other, making it possible for people to bring their lamps to a social gathering and create light together.
Velux Group has produced and donated over 14 500 of the solar-powered lamps. The global roof window manufacturer is further training 150 local sales agents who will sell the solar lamps to offgrid communities in Senegal, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
The training combines workshops, role-play, demonstrations as well as group work.
Offshoot of Plan International Zimbabwe Alight Zimbabwe Trust’s (Plan Zim Alumni’s) Edius N Makono notes that the business training has been very successful and well attended.
“The future sales agents have a high interest in the product and are convinced that the lamps will sell very well. The agents . . . realise that the natural light solar lamps can save their cus- tomers a lot of money,” says Makono.
He adds that, after two months of using the lamps, customers already save money – compared to what they spend on kerosene lamps.
“Having natural light solar lamps means that customers are independent of the electricity grid,” says Makono.
Velux Group will distribute the rest of the solar lamps through the sales agents in the early months of this year.
About a year ago, Velux Group joined forces with Little Sun and Plan International in launching a design competition to bring clean, sustainable lighting solutions to Africa.
The Velux Natural Light International Design Competition received 172 design pro- posals and entries from 65 countries. A high-level jury of experts in the fields of architecture, art and design subsequently selected the winning design by Arando and Fondello. Their solar lamp design was inspired by the way light can bring people together.
The project uses an entrepreneurial distribution model and the lamps will be sold at locally affordable prices in communities without electricity in Senegal, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
The distribution model employed is very similar in concept to that of microcredit, in which small local entrepreneurs who cannot obtain loans under normal circumstances –owing to a lack of steady income or collateral – are offered small loans that can help get their businesses off the ground.
To help kick-start sales, these entrepreneurs will initially receive a stock of Natural Light lamps free. Once they have sold their stock, the resulting profit will give them the capital to buy additional lamps to sell, thereby esta- blishing their own self-sustaining small businesses.
“It’s been very rewarding working with partners like Velux and Plan International, which share our common goal of bringing clean, renewable light to people across Africa,” says Little Sun sales manager in Africa Mason Huffine.
About Little Sun
Little Sun is a social business and global project founded by artist Olafur Eliasson and engineer Frederik Ottesen to get clean, reliable, affordable light to the 1.1-billion people in the world living in off-grid areas without electricity.
The project’s first product, the Little Sun solar LED lamp, is sold all over the world. Buying Little Suns in areas of the world with electricity makes the lamps available in off-grid areas at reduced, locally affordable prices, where they provide a clean alternative to toxic and expensive fuel-based lighting such as kerosene lanterns.
Natural Light Donation
Velux Group focuses on its expertise in the field of light and it uses its expertise where it believes it will have the greatest impact. As part of its seventy-fifth anniversary, the group aims to place a greater focus on bringing sustainable, reliable and affordable lighting to off-grid African regions.