Economic Empowerment

High-performing appliances can bolster livelihoods of vulnerable off-grid communities through income generation, employment opportunities, and diversification of economic activities.

In Uganda, micro, small, and medium enterprises who purchased off-grid refrigerators, on average, increased their daily incomes 2.5-fold.

Appliances for Economic Empowerment

Appliances play a critical role in economic empowerment in off- and weak-grid communities. Solar products can increase productivity by providing more hours of light and offering a reliable electricity connection for small businesses in all stages of the production process. Raising the productivity of existing work in, for example, the agriculture sector helps raise incomes among the rural poor, while new appliances can also create value chains and generate employment opportunities.

As the off-grid solar market expands, more products are being used in income-generating applications. These range from the use of small solar systems in households for mobile phone charging, to lighting, sound, and television in bars and restaurants, refrigeration and cooling, to solar water pumps for irrigation, agri-processing, and various industries such as carpentry, tailoring, welding and looming. Off-grid appliances drive income increases through improved productivity and support job creation and economic diversification. A recent study found that 58% of households undertake more economic activity due to their purchase of a solar home system (SHS), either by unlocking additional work hours, using the system in a new or existing business, or enabling SHS-owners to get a new job.

Off-Grid appliances enable income generation and poverty alleviation

Solar Water Pumps

Solar pumping systems can result in significant long-term cost savings and increased agricultural productivity to farmers.

Bangladesh has set a target to deploy 50,000 solar pumps by 2025.


Consumer Spotlight

Tirus Mwangi, a spinach farmer from Kenya, made the decision to buy a solar water pump because he was struggling to pump manually from his nearby borehole. Now, Tirus pumps about 2,100 litres of water each week on average. He uses the water to irrigate his spinach, provide drinking water for his 13 cows, pump water for domestic use. Titus’ solar water pump is now the only source of water for his 3 acre farm.

Since purchasing the solar water pump, Tirus has seen an increase in his productivity and income. He also said that the pump has improved his quality of life very much.

Learn more about the economic benefits of solar water pumps. 

Off-Grid Refrigerators

Refrigeration enables income-generation for small retailers and other value chain actors through the storage of cold drinks, food, and other perishable items for later sale.

Refrigerator customers surveyed in Kenya and Uganda reported average gross sales increases of $20-28 per week.


Consumer Spotlight

Thipperudrappa is a road-side food truck entrepreneur who sells drinks and snacks at a toll plaza on India’s National Highway 4. Thipperudrappa installed a 100L solar refrigerator/freezer on his truck in order to sell cold food and beverages, and reduce financial losses from food spoilage.

Thipperudrappa’s mother described milk spoilage as the primary motive to purchase the new refrigerator. “Milk spoils very quickly in the summer, and once it goes, we cannot sell it.” The solar refrigerator helps extend the product shelf-life of milk and other beverages, which in turn improves earning potential. Thipperudrappa’s income has increased since purchasing his DC refrigerator/freezer. On average, he sells 25 liters of beverage per day. The solar panels installed on his food truck serves as a free advertisement — people come to the truck and ask for cold drinks when they see the solar panels.

Learn more.

Because the solar water pump has no other expenses, I irrigate my farm freely. This has caused my farm productivity to change. Now, I get more crops due to irrigation and I also get enough food for my household. Malinda Changwe
Maize and watermelon farmer, Tanzania 

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