Two women taking control of their work-life balance
Access to electricity can have a transformative power over the lives of women in rural sub Saharan Africa. Previously constrained by the rising and setting of the sun, women in rural households can now start to organise their own time. For many Azuri customers, this greater degree of freedom is one of the defining characteristics of an electrified household, and one step towards a connected lifestyle. For the 1.3 billion people not connected to grid electricity, an increase in personal agency is one of the best things about switching to PayGo solar.
Katherine, an Azuri customer of three years living in Kitale, Kenya with her husband and children, has certainly found that living with off-grid electricity has transformed how much freedom she has in organising her day. Before Azuri, living off-grid meant buying kerosene to light her home, and having to charge her mobile phone in town. The kerosene light was too dingy to perform chores after dark, so everything had to be packed into the daytime. Since switching to PayGo solar, Katherine has transformed her work-life balance. Now the businesswoman and mother of three is able to enjoy energy that fits around her life, not the other way around.
Katherine’s income comes from growing crops and breeding livestock. When she goes to tend the field in the morning, she takes her mobile phone to use as a radio. Before Azuri, getting back early was imperative to be able to cook and clean by the light of the sun, but now Katherine has a brightly lit house to come home to. “Now I can do my house chores at night, I have more time in the day for managing my livestock and crops. Before, I could only manage 2 acres. Now, I am managing 7 acres of cassava! One acre will make 30 bags to sell at market for 2000Ksh.”
“I am making a lot more now than before and can spend more time with my family.”
Katherine is not the only woman in her village who is using Azuri to balance her work and home life. Suzanne is a fishmonger who trades at market 3 days a week in Kitale, the same town as Katherine. At 7pm, before the sun starts to set, she would have to pack up her stall and start the journey home. As she waits at the bus stop, she can already see streams of potential customers walking by- commuters passing through the market to pick up food on their way home. This last hour, when many come home through the market, is the busiest time, and best time to sell.
Azuri pay-as-you-go solar lighting has changed Suzanne’s life. Now she can rely on a steady source of light when she gets home, she can add more productive hours to her day, meaning she can spend longer at the market to catch those lucrative end-of-day deals. Suzanne used to sell from 7am to 7pm, but now can stay until 8pm. “I can sell a whole sack of fish now with the extra time! I make 5000Ksh from a bag of fish, 3 times a week. Before I could sell less than half the bag. I used to have to do my house chores while there was still sunlight. Now I can do them after dark with the Azuri light, and I can read my bible afterwards.”
“I am catching the extra trade with my fish!”
Katherine and Suzanne are now not only vastly increasing profits, they’re saving time and money elsewhere. With better lighting, tasks can be completed more competently and with less strain. Mobile phone charging at home saves the time and cost of journeying into town to rent a charging point. Rechargeable radios mean not having to travel to market to buy new batteries every few weeks. This provides even more choices- and the concept of a work-life balance. Having completed everything they would normally do in a day in less time than before, and still with electrical light for hours in the evening, many women can for the first time choose activities based around their interests, rather than their obligations. Suzanne can read her bible; Katherine invites her friends to drink tea.
Both these rural women are using Azuri to achieve a more fulfilling work-life balance, something that we all aspire to maintain. The challenges of raising a family, generating an income and running a household are still significant, but now every once in a while, Katherine and Suzanne have the power to choose ‘just-for-me’.