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Clean Home Energy in Sierra Leone

Residents of Sierra Leone are empowered with clean, efficient biomass HomeStoves, solar power and lighting.

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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

For Clean Home Energy in Sierra Leone, World Hope International (WHI), an international development NGO, partners with BioLite, a technology developer, and BRAC International, an NGO specializing in micro-finance, to empower citizens of Sierra Leone to access life changing technologies. Two technologies will be distributed to citizens of Sierra Leone: HomeStove: $70 USD. The HomeStove provides gas-like cooking, while reducing smoke emissions by 90% and fuel consumption by 50%. The HomeStove co-generates electricity from the flame via BioLite's patented Direct Conduction Thermoelectric System, enabling users to charge mobile phones and LED lights via a USB port. The HomeStove was deliberately designed to be consistent with traditional cooking practices that users are already familiar with (e.g. side-fed operation) as well as optimal combustion of unprocessed biomass fuels, such as raw wood, cow dung, or agricultural residue. SolarHome 620: $100 USD. The SolarHome 620 brings modern lighting, energy, and entertainment to the off-grid home. The system lights up multiple rooms via three hanging lights (including one motion-activated light) and has an additional light on the Control Box. The Control Box houses an in-built FM radio and MP3 player and two USB ports to charge mobile phones and other devices. Working in Sierra Leone since 1996, WHI’s vast network of beneficiaries enables the organization to know the distinct challenges they face. WHI leverages this knowledge to ensure marketing materials are distributed in high traffic areas and directly to the communities that need the technology. The organization will host training sessions on how to use the technology and bridge the gap between the consumer, the finance NGO, and the technology distributor. The goal is to implement the technology in the Western Region first, moving in to the Northern Region next because of the large population there depending on wood for cooking.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our beneficiaries are citizens of Sierra Leone without electricity who rely on wood or charcoal for cooking and have no access to energy or solar power in their homes. Only 5% of the households in Sierra Leone have electricity and only 8% have gas. The majority of the population use charcoal and wood for cooking. In the Western Region, this is 296,240 households; in the Northern Region, this is 407,007 households. 76% of households use battery/rechargeable light as the main source of lighting. Only 17.8% of household have access to public utilities like NPA/BKPS. The use of other sources (wood, kerosene, generator, solar, gas and candle) for lighting accounts for 5.7 percent. In the Western Region, 155,293 households have no access to electricity in their homes. In the Northern Region, 386,929 households have no access to electricity. Statistics Sierra Leone. 2015. Population and Housing Census. Census, Statistics Sierra Leone.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

This approach to connecting the citizens of Sierra Leone with clean energy offers advanced, yet user-friendly technology implemented by experienced civil society partner with strong technical expertise. The technological innovations, BioLite’s HomeStove and SolarHome 620 were designed with off-grid populations in mind, and are user friendly and uncomplicated, providing instant solutions to energy problems. WHI is uniquely positioned in the region with a long history of international development work and several on-going programs. WHI offers much more than charity, we provide resources and knowledge to the poor, so they can ultimately become agents of change within their communities. The staff on the ground has partnered with BRAC International for micro-finance opportunities in the past, with systems in place to move forward with implementation quickly.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Pilot: I have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Founded in 1996, World Hope International (WHI) is a Christian relief and development organization that helps vulnerable and exploited communities worldwide to alleviate poverty, suffering and injustice, regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, race or religion. WHI has worked in Sierra Leone since 1996 with programs in the areas of: health and nutrition, economic development, emergency relief, clean water and sanitation, education, and agriculture.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

In the peri-urban setting of Sierra Leone, there are no street lights. People sell various types of cooked food, cold after being transported from their homes, at night on the street corners in the dark. Beyond the home use, this project has the potential to light up the street corners and provide hot, freshly cooked food for sale.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

In Sierra Leone prosperity is impacted by several factors including lacks in infrastructure, education, and healthcare. Of the 7 million people reported on the 2015 census, nearly 3 million, or 42%, have never attended school. Only 312,925, 4%, have completed secondary school (high school). Only 37% of the population is literate. The Ebola virus negatively impacted prosperity for Sierra Leone beginning in 2014. Access to solar energy provides lighting in homes, increasing the ability for students to work on homework in the evening. Through home-based access to energy, community members spend less time walking to charging stations for phones, which allows them to remain connected with their enterprises and family and spend their time on more profitable ventures. The planet has been impacted by diesel fuel produced electricity and cookstoves that burn wood, charcoal or animal waste as fuel. The HomeStove improves air quality and efficiently consumes burning materials.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

WHI will partner with BioLite and BRAC International on this project. BioLite specializes in developing and distributing clean energy technologies for low-income and off-grid households. From 2010-2013, BioLite developed the HomeStove together with users from seven countries. Through pilots in East Africa and India between 2014-2016, BioLite has retailed 20,000 HomeStoves, refined the HomeStove design, validated willingness to pay, and developed a sales model that can be replicated for scaling. BioLite will provide the technology, marketing materials, training and support for this project. BRAC International brings 46 years of experience in microfinance activities to this project. With the help of microfinance, families are able to enhance income, smooth consumption, build assets and reduce vulnerability to shocks. BRAC will enable beneficiaries to obtain micro-loans to cover the cost of the technology with a payment plan stretching over one year.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

The communities receiving the technology have a competitive advantage because they are actively looking for inexpensive home energy and lighting options. As a result of the recent Ebola outbreak, there is a heightened concern for the air quality in and around their homes. The solutions provided by the clean cooking HomeStove and SolarHome are welcomed and desired.

Geographic Focus

The target area is the Western and Northern regions of Sierra Leone.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

This is a 24-month project. The first three months will be focused on developing marketing materials, mapping the targeted area, and formalizing the specific responsibilities of partner organizations. Months four through seven will be spend training local sales and marketing force, distributing marketing materials, transporting product to distribution centers, and establishing the first wave of consumer sales. After year one, the focus expands from the Western Region to the Northern Region.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

Attachments (1)


Join the conversation:

Photo of Gayanjith Premalal

Hi Jen! Nice to see you in the challenge proposing a wonderful idea. You have explained the role of BioLite and BRAC International nicely, but the role that your organization is playing is not that clear? Are you creating a platform for these two organizations to work on? If you take a rural community, they are reluctant to try new things, and when it costs them around$70-$100, the resistance would be higher. How do you expect to handle that?

Photo of Jen

Thanks Gayanjith,
WHI has the connection to community members. Our role will be to facilitate the marketing, finance and training. For example, we'll be the boots on the ground hanging posters, talking to and recruiting beneficiaries. We're uniquely positioned to do this because of the work WHI has been doing since 1996.
The partners are planning to sell the products via microfinance which lowers the purchase barrier for our products because customers can pay off the units in small monthly increments. In addition, customers can use savings on fuel and mobile phone charging to pay off the products. As such, the product is essentially paying for itself through the savings it generates.

Photo of Gayanjith Premalal

Awesome. That is a good explanation! I like how you have combined a product and service. Since you have already done a pilot, it would add a lot of value to your submission if you can show some success stories. Since you cannot add it all here, how about blogging about it separately and having a link to the blog on your submission?

Photo of Jen

Here are some links to successful BioLite projects:

Photo of Gayanjith Premalal

Great! Thanks Jen. Try using our Story Telling Toolkit in order to improve your submission further.

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