As we have only just started bringing the Little Sun to those who need it, we are still in the process of learning. We have been testing the Little Sun lamps with people we expected would have good use for it, in order to hear their feedback and reactions. And some of the reactions showed us there is a certain amount that you can expect, but there are also things that are highly unpredictable, the individualised uses for the lamp.
In the next few blogs, I would like to relate a few stories about our encounters with people, which reflect our learning process:
I went to a market place with a photographer in the southern part of Addis Ababa – a vegetable market. We met a young vegetable merchant, and I asked him if he would mind talking to us for a second. He said it was getting dark and he needed to close the shop before it became totally dark because there was no light there. Then I said this was exactly what I wanted to talk to him about, and then I explained to him the idea behind Little Sun. After talking to us for a few minutes while he was packing up his shop, he looked at me and said it was clear that if he had a bit of light, then he could extend his business hours for another hour or two. This would be good because there is always pedestrian traffic in the market during the evenings, mainly from the other salespeople who are closing up and heading home with the days profits. He said it would be brilliant if he could sell or trade vegetables with the other merchants there. But then he said that most interesting for him was not the extra business he could do; rather, the light would make him the centre of the market – he knew this from other locations. People would stop by his stand to discuss the news of the day. He would become the centre of the social activities there and it would give him prestige and prominence in the market, and his kiosk would become known in the market as a place to meet afterwards.
I find this idea particularly attractive. Whereas we brought the lamp there thinking it would allow more time for business, he pointed out that it would change his social position within the market. He focused more on that aspect than on the direct effects on his business.