The COVID-19 pandemic has brutally disrupted businesses around the world. Lockdowns and restrictions on movement have forced many businesses to close or scale down considerably. Particularly impacted have been companies that require high-touch engagement with clients, such as FINCA International’s BrightLife program in Uganda. BrightLife conducts last-mile distribution of clean energy products, encompassing installation, maintenance and customer care.
With the pandemic taking the spotlight and forcing a drastic slowdown in business, it is important not to lose sight of the wider impact BrightLife has had, a pointer to its potential post-COVID-19. To that end, here is a by-the-numbers look at BrightLife’s impact in Uganda to date.
6,802: The number of BrightLife’s customers who have benefitted from free lighting during COVID-19. With the pandemic impairing people’s ability to meet basic expenses, many customers considered foregoing their lighting for other needs like food and shelter. Thanks to a crowdfunding campaign, BrightLife was able to save these customers from making such a tradeoff. BrightLife offered them lighting free of charge for a whole month and continues to work with them to find solutions to keep their lights on.
150,000: The total number of lives impacted by BrightLife in Uganda. It includes clients and their families benefiting from solar lanterns, solar home systems and improved cookstoves, acquired affordably through pay-as-you-go (PAYGo) financing. BrightLife’s customers have reported feeling healthier and safer, thanks to these clean energy products. BrightLife’s off-grid clients are able to be more productive by working longer hours, while their children can study at night and do their homework before going to bed.
14,272: The amount of carbon emissions—measured in tons—avoided by providing families with clean energy solutions. BrightLife offers modern and innovative cookstoves, which cut toxic emissions by up to 90 percent and reduce fuel use by 50 percent or more. One of the cookstoves uses the heat from cooking to generate enough energy to charge a mobile phone or power an LED light which, along with BrightLife’s other solar lighting products, helps reduce usage of polluting fuels by households.
1,037,003: The money, in US dollars, saved on energy expenditure by BrightLife’s clients annually. The average Ugandan household spends about $10 monthly on energy and fuel. With the renewable energy of solar, BrightLife’s clients, the majority of whom earn less than $4 a day, save money to spend on other priorities, such as health and education for their children.
3,332,599: Additional income, in US dollars, generated by BrightLife’s clients. With efficient lighting, BrightLife’s clients who run small businesses can bring in extra income from being able to stay open late into the night. For clients who own BrightLife’s products that come with phone chargers, there is a great business opportunity in a country where nearly 80 percent of the population owns a mobile phone. These clients, particularly those residing in off-grid areas, can generate income from charging phones in their communities.
1,000: The number of BrightLife clients participating in the Prosper program. Launched in 2019 in partnership with FINCA Uganda, the program helps transition BrightLife’s unbanked and under-banked clients to FINCA Uganda, where they can access a variety of savings and credit products for more impactful financial inclusion. Through Prosper, clients repaying their PAYGo energy loan build a credit history and ultimately qualify for a 20 percent rebate to deposit into a FINCA Uganda savings account.