For most families in Kenya, the holiday season in December is devoted to traveling upcountry to spend time with loved ones and extended family members. However, for Rebecca Aseyo, the last time she recounts visiting her relatives in the village during the December holidays was way before she ventured into the solar installation business.
“December is a busy month for solar entrepreneurs. This is the time where people living in the city travel home to do some development and home improvement projects, among them buying solar products”
However, the December holidays in 2020 were different. With the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, most families opted to spend their holiday in the cities and this affected Rebecca’s energy business. She did not get as many clients requiring the installation of solar systems in their rural homes, as she had anticipated. She had to think quickly, so she started a home catering service in her locality and her business picked up so well because of the festivities.
“Before the pandemic, on a normal December day I would receive approximately 5 home system installations orders but in 2020, I could have an entire week without selling even one single portable solar lamp,” she said.
With the holidays period over, Rebecca has reverted to her energy business, selling solar devices to customers in her locality in Kakamega County and beyond. Even though she is not receiving as many customers as before the pandemic, Rebecca has another card up her sleeve to boost her sales and grow her business. She plans to adopt some of the skills she acquired from a training she received as part of the Women’s Economic Empowerment II project on various marketing approaches to bring her business back on track.
“In one training session I attended from the Women’s Economic Empowerment project, I learnt that conducting a market activation is a great way to attract customers. Together with my sales agent, we have been demonstrating to customers how our different products work at various trader markets within Kakamega County. This approach is working very well. Since we began, we are selling up to 8 home systems and 5 portable solar systems on average in a day. I also receive approximately 15 phone calls daily, from people inquiring about our products and services,” she updates us with excitement.
Despite the challenges, Rebecca is still optimistic. Up till now she has run her business from home, but now she plans on opening a solar shop, and going beyond the installation of solar systems. She has already engaged Startimes and Sunking, two companies that will supply her with solar products. All that is left is securing a shop within the town’s central business district.
This story has been developed by our partner Practical Action as part of our Women’s Economic Empowerment Program.