I believe that this crisis could be an opportunity to promote clean and modern energy services in rural areas. This would also help my business grow, while improving health and education in my community.
Jane Anyango Kola lives in Homabay Town, on the shores of Lake Victoria in Western Kenya. She has been a solar energy entrepreneur together with her husband since 2016. Prior to this, Jane had been weeding other people’s farms to get an income for her family. In December 2019, Jane joined the Women in Energy Enterprises in Kenya project, implemented by Practical Action. She has become a more efficient entrepreneur after a training in Business Skills and Agency Empowerment, during which she attended courses on marketing, customer care, record-keeping and after sales services among others.
As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, Jane is experiencing a reduction of customers who visit her open air shop, shaded by a big umbrella in sunny Homabay Town. Potential buyers have radically shifted their focus to the purchase of food items. She and her husband are forced to work extra hard to reach new customers, while strictly observing social distancing rules, protective measures by wearing masks and constant sanitization. And even though they strictly follow COVID-19 measures, potential customers don’t always do, exposing her to higher risks. Another reason why Jane is not able to exploit her full potential as an energy entrepreneur is a reduction in her stock, as she is not able to replace the sellings that she does make.
Despite all this, Jane strongly believes that awareness raising campaigns on the benefits of clean energy products and services are needed. The coronavirus pandemic should not force people to return to the use of traditional fuel-based lighting. But on the contrary, it should highlight the urgent need of a just energy transition.
This impact story was created in collaboration with our partner, Practical Action in East Africa.