Keeping the shutters up after sundown: How PayGo solar is boosting restaurant business

//Keeping the shutters up after sundown: How PayGo solar is boosting restaurant business

Dusk for most business owners in rural Kenya tends to signal the end of the trading day.

That was the case for 50-year-old restaurant owner Alubanus Ndolo from Kitise in Makueni County. In fact, 94% of the population in Makueni have no access to mains electricity: for the majority of business owners like Alubanus, when the sun goes down so do the shutters.

That was before pay-as-you-go solar lighting and solar satellite TV made it possible for Alubanus to keep his doors open later and provide a new incentive for customers to stop and stay.

Alubanus is the only restaurant with both television and lights which has attracted more customers through the door. Customers come for the food, stay for the entertainment, and enjoy the light.

“Customers always follow the light,” says Alubanus. “And they also want to know what is happening in the world.”

Typically Alubanus would get around 40 customers, translating into KSh 2,000-3,000 per day. He would open at 4pm and close around 7pm. Now with light at night and TV entertainment he stays open until 11pm and serves on average between 80-100 customers, bringing in over KSh 5,000 per day. The restaurant is so popular these days, that Alubanus has had to employ three additional people full time to assist him with cooking and serving.

“Most days we are overflowing with people who know there is light and TV.”

Alubanus has an AzuriTV which comes complete with a 32-inch solar TV and over 60 Zuku TV satellite channels. The package also has a complete lighting system with 4 x LED lights, rechargeable torch and radio and a mobile charging port.

Few people in his community have TV or are connected to mains electricity and for those who are connected, reliability is an issue with power gone for days at a time in some instances.

Alubanus is now confident in the future of his business:

“When the power goes or when the darkness arrives, people know they can come to my place as the power is always on. Afterall, no one wants to eat in the dark!”

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