Heart of England Community Energy (HECE) fund projects that work to reduce fuel poverty in their local area and overseas. An annual beneficiary of HECE are Solar Aid, who work to improve access to electricity in rural sub-Saharan Africa by providing solar-powered lights for communities. Read on to find out more about Solar Aid, and the impact Heart of England made for rural African communities in 2022-23.
Who are SolarAid
SolarAid is an international charity founded in 2006 to combat poverty and climate change. Through their social enterprise, SunnyMoney, they provide access to solar lights in Malawi and Zambia to help catalyse solar markets with renewable light. This allows money to be reinvested back into our work, encourages job creation and ensures money stays in the local economy.
Distributing solar lights allows communities to ‘leapfrog’ nationwide grid electrification, which is unlikely to ever reach the rural landscapes of sub-saharan African communities. Instead, solar lights are safe, clean and affordable. They are a small, but smart innovation that provide hours of light in the evening so families can earn, learn and feel safe after dark.
The solar lights often replace kerosene lamps which gives benefit multiply by reducing carbon pollution, improving air quality, making homes safer (at less risk of fire) and improving the quality of light so children can study for longer.
Heart of England support the work of Solar Aid, which provides clean and safe light to communities across Africa. SolarAid’s mission aligns with that of Heart of England Community Energy as they work to eradicate fuel poverty and hardship.
In 2022 – 23, HECE supported SolarAid’s Mayi Walas (Shining Mothers) project. Their donation supported the training of 20 Mayi Walas , distributing 200 solar lights and
reaching over 1,000 people.
Who are Mayi Walas?
The Mayi Walas are women who sell solar products to local communities. The
women are trained and supported by programmes coordinated by SolarAid, before distributing the products to rural communities. The groups purchase lamps at bulk discount prices and sell them to customers for a profit. As women are the main users of light in homes, Mayi Walas understand their customers' needs. Group members often have strong social connections with their community and customers, so can support them throughout their ownership of the solar products.
For more details about SolarAid, the Mayi Walas and how Heart of England Community Energy’s donation was used in the last year, please read the report below.