This picture shows Berhanu studying. Berhanu has a younger sister, who does not go to school. Berhanu goes to school and his sister lives with their mother. Berhanu is going to school to become a technical engineer.
This little, three-person family has an economy that keeps the family together, which is based upon the mother working to pay for the son’s school; the son is working to bring food home; the daughter is also working smaller jobs. They spend 3 or 4 dollars a month on kerosene. That pays for light so that Berhanu can study. We asked his mother if she could afford to spend three months of kerosene to buy the Little Sun lamp.
She said yes; by putting together the economy of her son and her self together, she could easily understand that she could save money by spending three months of kerosene money on the lamp. She could get at least three years, or 36 months, of light from the Little Sun, thereby saving money for the following 33 months. This would be very attractive to them. She said that the first thing she would do with the extra money would be to put her daughter to school. She’s already nine, but she would have to start in the class for six years old. We have been working on this for a while, she said, and Berhanu is considering taking an extra job in the evening instead of doing his homework because he thinks it is more important that his sister goes to school. There is no doubt in the family that education is the only way for them to reach prosperity. What is hard to understand from the outside is how the lamp can change the micro-economy of a family like this. It not only changes the money circulation on a weekly basis; it would also mean that his sister could go to school.
In order for all this to work, of course, the lamp needs to be affordable enough for people to buy it where they need it. This is why we have developed the business model of ‘profit to the point’, where we are selling it at a higher price in locations where there is consistent electrical coverage (for about €20, or £16.50 at the Tate Modern in London), where people have the resources to pay for electricity from an electrical grid – so that we can drive the price down for those living in off-grid regions. By buying Little Sun at full price in areas of the world with electricity, you help make it available for a lower price to communities with no or inconsistent electricity. Retailers close to off-grid communities are then able to make a profit while keeping Little Sun affordable, so that the lamps reach those users who do not have access to electricity – where Little Sun can make the most difference.