How We Work

Zawadisha is delivering clean energy and water to the doorsteps of rural Kenyan women through a simple pay-as-you-go plan. For the first time in their lives, they can afford solar lamps, clean cook stoves, and rain water tanks. Our in-house credit program eliminates the barriers associated with the high cost of these items, and we follow-up with training that helps them maximize the possibilities of their products.

Our community-based model engages trusted local leaders who spend their days traveling deep into rural areas to work with women’s savings groups. These women have strong relationships with one another; their high levels of social capital act as collateral to not only procure these products, but to make monthly payments, as well.

Our Community Coordinators provide an initial orientation that doubles as financial literacy training—women learn about the terms of loans and they learn how saving and budgeting can help them repay their loans.

We deliver the items they request directly to their doorsteps, train them on how to properly care for them, and provide all after-sales service. Our work is uniquely pro-woman, pro-poor, and pro-environment.

What's the impact of these loans? 

Solar Lamps: Women and their families will have clean energy in multiple rooms in their home, increasing productivity, reducing the costs of paraffin, and eliminating certain health issues. Communication will be increased as they are able to charge their mobile phones at home, another cost saver. Check out our infographic on the impact of solar lamps here. 

Rain Water Tanks: Families will have clean water, increasing levels of hygiene, allowing them to grow their own food, and reducing expenditures previously spent on jerry cans of water. Furthermore, they will gain nearly six hours per day as they no longer need to make the long walk into town to purchase water. Check out our infographic on the impact of rain water tanks here. 

Clean Cook Stoves: Fuel efficient stoves mean that women use less to cook their food and boil water. This saves the family money and reduces the impact on the environment (charcoal production contributes to deforestation). These stoves also produce less smoke than traditional jikos reducing respiratory illnesses in the home. 

How do the women pay back this loan?

We wondered this as well when we first piloted this project. After six months with 100% repayment rate, we went into the field and asked how they were able to do this. We learned that unlike microloans for businesses, these loans were transparent and tangible to family members. Everyone in the home could use the lamp or the tank, and they felt the immediate benefit. (Although we believe that women working and earning income is also beneficial, family members didn't always see it that way.) Because the woman of the house was responsible for bringing this item into the home, her status was elevated and she was more appreciated. We even have had members tell us that these types of loans have brought unity in the home and greater love between husbands and wives. The result is that no one will let her fail. The entire family chips in to repay the loan, and the women had a few tricks up their sleeves to earn a little bit on the side by charging neighbors a small fee to charge their phones and selling water when their tanks were full. 

Read the full story about how we launched this program from Wildlife Works here.