How we are different

There are not many large solar electric product providers in Malawi currently, but there does exist quite a few smaller projects, and there does exist quite a range of lower quality products in shops. 

We think we are very different from other solar product suppliers in Malawi, and we think that our approach will be much more scale-able and potentially effective at reaching large numbers of rural households over the long term. Here we explain why:

The Three Distinct Advantages of the Kuyere Approach:
  1. Our business model is financially self-sustaining and thus we can grow to very large scale
  2. We build and assemble much of our system in Malawi, meaning we can deliver better service at lower cost
  3. Our local partners are diverse, independent organizations that retain autonomy and independence
Of course other approaches besides ours are good, appropriate, and can be quite effective for large parts of Malawi and rural Africa. But we do think that our approach will be better for more distant villages in poorer parts of Malawi.  We also think that our approach will get to more rural households faster than many other approaches. 

Next, we review the biggest solar project that exists in Malawi and compare and contrast their approach with ours.  SolarAid is a much larger international charitable organization that is making fast progress at getting certain types of solar lights to thousands of households.

Solar-Aid (non-profit w/quasi-private distribution)

Solar-Aid is a charity that creates solar light distribution through schools using a distribution system called SunnyMoney that is described as follows:
  • SunnyMoney’s unique community distribution model uses teachers to raise trust and build awareness of solar...
  • ... SunnyMoney supports these local entrepreneurs by providing marketing campaigns, training and shipping of products.
  • SunnyMoney continues to find ways to drive demand by creating brand awareness, community engagement and media attention. They run promotions ...
By the end of the 2015, SolarAid claims to have sold 143,000 solar lights in Malawi. In our visits to Malawi, we have seen some SolarAid lights in markets and in people's houses.  But typically the lights that we have seen are an isolated single light that people have to move outside every day to charge in the sun to have the light work at night.  The SolarAid lights we have seen in Malawi are not complete solar home systems that is installed in people's homes.

In contrast to SolarAid, the Kuyere project installs the solar lighting systems individually in customer's households.  This way people come home in the evening, turn on the light switch on the wall, and the light comes on.  While SolarAid will likely sell a million portable lights in Malawi before Kuyere does, the Kuyere systems are at a higher service level for the price point that customers can afford.

Kuyere is different in Malawi compared to SolarAid because we get custom-installed solar lighting systems to the poorest households in the country, within their window of affordability.

Another key difference between SolarAid and Kuyere is that Kuyere builds and assembles much of its systems in Malawi.  SolarAid manufactures its systems in China and imports the systems.  For the same money spent by a customer more of the money spend on a Kuyere system stays in Malawi. 

For these two reasons (1) higher service level and (2) more money stays in the Malawi economy, we believe that the Kuyere solution will be a more effective as sustain-ably reducing poverty in rural Africa than SolarAid's solution.  We are still small, and we don't know if we can catch up and pull ahead of SolarAid in serving a large part of the Malawian customer needs.  But because we think we do and will have a better solution for Malawians, we will try to do better than SolarAid.

Imported solar products found in local shops

Our project constantly monitors the availability of solar electric products that can be found in shops in Malawi. We consistently find that the products and components that we can obtain from international markets that are either twice as affordable or twice as good as the products that can be found in local marketplaces in Malawi.   Because the best quality solar technologies will always take some time to find their way to the Malawi market, we think that there will always be a role for our venture to supply higher quality, more affordable products and solar systems to Malawians.