VELUX Natural Light project creates employment opportunities in off-grid Africa
88 sales agents in Zambia can now support themselves and their families through sales of Natural Light solar lamps.
When the VELUX Group began donating Natural Light solar lamps to off-grid communities in Africa the aim was both to bring a sustainable light source to those living without access to electricity, and also to create a business model for local sales agents to make a living. This has been a great success. Today, 88 sales agents in Zambia have now built their own business selling Natural Light solar lamps. So far, 7,000 lamps have been sold in Zambia.
It is great to see how people have succeeded in building their own business around the Natural Light lamps. Through the initial donation we wanted to bring a gift of sustainable light from VELUX people to off-grid communities, but through this entrepreneurial model, the ambition will live on long after the donation is complete
“We have a goal of selling 10,000 lamps a year and expand to more districts. One idea we have is to buy some bikes to be able to cover a bigger area. At the moment most sales people are moving around on foot and are therefore only able to cover a limited area”, says local coordinator Mosses Mkamsamuele.
The 88 sales people in Zambia have built a company together, where they can share transportation costs and support each other with good advice in the sales process.
The Natural Light project was developed by VELUX and social business Little Sun in collaboration with NGO Plan International to celebrate the VELUX Group’s 75th anniversary.
Little Sun founder, artist Olafur Eliasson, says: “The Natural Light solar lamp is not only about providing energy to off-grid communities in Sub-Saharan Africa; the project gives people a new opportunity to take charge of their own lives. By providing sustainable, reliable and affordable light, we’ve helped to give people more independence and now they are able to work, study and cook safely in the dark.” Besides providing light, the Natural Light solar lamps will also help to improve air quality by reducing the widespread use of toxic, carbon-emitting kerosene lanterns, and instead, harness the sustainable energy of the sun.
About Little Sun
Little Sun is a social business and global project founded by artist Olafur Eliasson and engineer Frederik Ottesen to bring clean, reliable, affordable solar energy to the 1.1 billion people in the world living in off-grid areas without electricity. Purchasing Little Suns in areas of the world with electricity makes the products available in off-grid areas at reduced, locally affordable prices, where they provide a clean alternative to toxic and expensive fuel-based lighting and a steadfast and clean alternative to relying on the electrical grid.
Little Sun addresses the need for energy in a sustainable way that benefits off-grid communities by working with local entrepreneurs, creating local jobs, and generating local profits. The Little Sun project was officially launched in July 2012 at London’s Tate Modern. Since then, more than 500,000 Little Sun lamps have been distributed worldwide, with almost half going to off-grid areas. In April 2014, Little Sun received a ground-breaking $5 million impact investment loan from Bloomberg Philanthropies, making it possible to scale Little Sun’s operations across the African continent.
For more than 75 years, the VELUX Group has created better living environments for people around the world; making the most of daylight and fresh air through the roof. Our product programme includes roof windows and modular skylights as well as a range of decoration and sun screenings, roller shutters, installation solutions and intelligent home controls. These products help to ensure a healthy and sustainable indoor climate, for work and learning, for play and pleasure. We work globally – with sales and manufacturing operations in more than 40 countries and around 9,500 employees worldwide. The VELUX Group is owned by VKR Holding A/S, a limited company wholly owned by foundations and family. For more information, visit www.velux.com.