Fatoumata has been facing challenges most of her life, but has always shown determination to overcome them. So when economic crisis hit her region a few months ago, she fought to find ways to keep her business going and continue spreading the word about the benefits of solar lighting.
How has the business been going since you started your activities in spring?
Things have been going quite slow. Unfortunately, nobody can predict how the economy will go and the region I live in, Kedougou, has taken quite a big hit. Weather conditions led to poor harvests for farmers over winter, and also affected the gold panning industry, one of the main sources of income in the region. Despite this, I am very happy that I still managed to make some sales!
To date, I have managed to sell a third of the lamps I initially ordered and am now working on ways to sell the remaining products.
What are your future plans to increase sales?
I think support in marketing may well increase my sales; with support from Energy 4 Impact I would like to develop advertisements and posters with information about my location, my contact details and even my picture, so that people can recognise me! Villages are quite far from one another in this area – so this kind of promotional material will help me expand my client base. I am also considering investing in a motorcycle, so I can start delivering products to the most remote areas.
How have your customers responded to the products?
These lamps are definitely of great interest to my clients. Many people come to the shop to enquire about them. For now, I mostly sell to young workers, housewives and heads of households in my village and surrounding communities.
I have had good feedback from my clients. They are very happy about the financial mechanism we developed, that enables them to pay by cash or credit.
What do they usually use the product for?
Mainly domestic use. They use the lamps for lighting households, gardens, but also for their children’s education. There are also shopkeepers who use it, enabling them to stay open after dark. But they are also used by gold miners in need of a reliable and energy-saving source of power.
I actually use the lamp myself to light my home and business. My children also use it to do their homework or other activities during the evening.
What are your plans for the future?
With the increased income I would like to invest in other businesses, namely the purchase of a windmill and a solar refrigerator, since our village does not have either. This way I will be able to store all kinds of products that can then be sold on to surrounding communities.