Hello, sunshine!

If you need some inspiration in setting up a trading activity or social enterprise, you could do worse than to look to the innovative charity SolarAid.

SolarAid’s goal – singular – is to eradicate kerosene lamps in Africa by 2020. It intends to do this through its SunnyMoney Schools Programme – a social enterprise model which sells solar lamps through schools to people in Africa.

The top three things that fascinate me about this organisation…

1. Focus

SolarAid made a strategic decision to focus on one goal. It’s not easy for an organisation to narrow down to fewer than five strategic goals, never mind one. How wonderful it must be to work somewhere where everyone knows the one thing they are there to do. A bit like the urban myth or possible true story about putting a man on the moon; where the floor sweeper at NASA was asked what his job was, and he replied ‘to help put a man on the moon’.

2. Selling not giving

It’s a shift from the traditional aid model. As SolarAid state, it’s “progress and aid combined: 21 century style.” SolarAid knows how long it takes for a family to cover the cost of a solar lamp (the cost is recovered through savings from not using kerosene in c. 12 weeks) and that is a very attractive proposition as it has many other benefits. Solar lamps enable families to spend more time together, children to study in an evening and reduce accidents caused by kerosene lamps. Moreover, SolarAid measures the overall impact that it has, as demonstrated its impact report 2013.

3. Marketing and distribution

If you find it difficult to reach your target audience, try reaching rural communities in Africa. SolarAid develops relationships with head teachers in the communities to help build trust and educate people about the benefits of solar lamps. Moreover, the organisation supports local entrepreneurs to sell lamps in their communities – so when the market is suitably mature, SolarAid can move on to other communities and the local entrepreneurs can continue building their business and supplying solar lamps. Win/win.

Find out more

If you’re in an organisation that struggles to prioritise or is considering setting up a social enterprise, you might want to hear from the man behind the plan.

We’re thrilled that Richard Turner, Chief Fundaiser at SolarAid and the man behind SunnyMoney is our keynote speaker and joining our panel discussion on impact at NCVO’s Funding Conference: 24 March 2014.

Come along sunshine, find out more and book your place at NCVO’s Funding Conference.

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Beth worked as a sustainable funding consultant at NCVO. She specialises in business planning, fundraising portfolio analysis and new product development. Beth left NCVO in July 2014 but her blog posts are kept here for reference.

One Response to Hello, sunshine!

  1. The model used by SolarAid is excellent. Not only that, but it is backed up by a strong internal infrastructure which extends to the governances and the formation of the corporate entity itself.