We’re partnering with Empower (a recent Rockefeller Foundation Innovator finalist) for an exciting new Buy One Give One program. For every solar power and light kit featuring our new USB Touchlight purchased, they will deliver and train residents to install a similar kit in the village of Zatuba in Malawi. (We are sold out of these kits, but you can pair a USB Touchlight with a 3 Watt Solar Charger Kit if you’d like a similar system).

Here’s Jones from Empower leading a training session on the solar lighting kits.

The goal is to provide a clean, safe, and inexpensive source of power for lighting and cell phone charging, and the results from an earlier deployment of Voltaic lights have been fantastic. The solar lights will allow for extended working hours and replace or greatly minimize the use of kerosene and firewood. In addition, villagers are helping to build up assets in the Zatuba Community Bank. Each customer pays the full cost (excluding shipping) amount for the light over six months and those funds go into the community bank. For their part, Empower provides the capacity building, pays for transport and monitors the systems to make sure they are being fully utilized.

Extended work hours and savings on lights
Abshai (pictured above) purchased one of the first lights and phone charging systems from Voltaic. Prior to lighting, Abshai’s work day had to end at 5 as the village got dark. He is now able to work 6 extra hours before going to bed, and now he can work in his shed grading his tobacco up until 11pm without even knowing it. Before solar, he used to spend MK2000 ($5) on batteries for small torches and kerosene for small smoke producing lamps. This was one of his biggest expenses.

Less expensive phone charging
Phone charging is now simple and free. Previously, Abshai paid $0.30 per phone charge.

Permanent setup
The battery in the system is portable, but the panel is mounted semi-permanently on the thatched roofs of the homes. This ensures that the panel is pointed towards the sun (the installers are trained by Empower) and is generating power whenever sun is available.

Abshai has told Empower and Voltaic that he wants to be able to run multiple lights and charge multiple phones at the same time from his system. We’re working on the components that will make this happen and hope to have these in production and in Malawi soon. If you’d like to help send more solar lighting kits to Malawi, get your own lighting kit here (sold out).

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2 Responses

  1. Jeff

    Was wondering if you are still operating in any capacity in Malawi? During my recent trip I spent sometime with an amazing family who’s farm has all just died. I am looking to buy them some solar lights and your company was one that popped up.

    Thank you for any support


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