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Barefoot Power brings solar lighting to off-the-grid areas in East Africa

Barefoot Power, a for-profit social enterprise operating across East Africa, has built a network of 'solar entrepreneurs' who offer solar lighting to towns and villages all across Uganda.

By Jonathan KalanDowser.org / May 19, 2011

Saidi Rukamata of Musubiro, a village in Uganda, purchased a Barefoot Power Pack nearly a year ago to provide clean energy for his family of eight. Previously, he would spend more than $4 per month on kerosene, which provided insufficient lighting.

Courtesy of Dowser.org

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A couple of hours drive on a dusty road outside of the southern town of Masaka, Uganda, you’ll find Musubiro Village. Miles from the closest electricity grid, there is little hope of government power coming this way anytime soon.

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In Musubiro, like so many other villages across Africa, the main source of light is kerosene, which is not only expensive, but has a myriad of negative health side affects, and the risk that always comes when you mix open flames and straw thatched-roof dwellings.

Typically, the day’s chores are done, children’s studying is over, and small shops are closed when the sun goes down at 7:30 p.m.

Not anymore.

Barefoot Power, a for-profit social enterprise operating across East Africa, has built a network of “Solar Entrepreneurs” who are responsible for bringing solar lighting to towns and villages like Musubiro all across Uganda.

Their products, ranging from the extremely popular “Firefly Mobile” – a small 1.5 watt panel with 12 small LED lights and a phone charger – or their full “Village Kits” that can provide lighting to an entire house, are making solar power affordable and accessible to those at the base of the economic pyramid. The small solar panels are portable and once charged, act like a battery.

Barefoot Power currently has 160 Solar Entrepreneurs operating all over Uganda, and an extensive distribution network that makes its products available to customers across Kenya, Tanzania, India, and several other parts of the world.

The original story – and a related slideshow – can be seen at Dowser.org.

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