For 40-year-old fisherman Moses Oluoch, work and life has ‘never felt easier’ since installing pay-as-you-go solar.
Moses is one of 2 million Kenyans who rely on fishing for their livelihood and together contribute to some 0.5% of the Gross Domestic Product per annum. While fishing from Lake Victoria provided his family with a modest income in recent years, Moses was excited by the opportunities that pay-as-you-go solar could offer.
Moses is an Azuri Quad customer. He lives with his wife and 3 children in a small house he built on his father’s homestead in Rarieda, Siaya County. His Quad system comes complete with solar-powered LED lights, rechargeable torch and radio and a mobile charging port.
While Moses admits having light for his family at night was very desirable, his priority for installing solar was the access to new energy reliant services that would help him increase the family’s income by connecting him to the world around him.
“I’d wanted to buy a smartphone for years but what was the point in having one if I couldn’t use it properly,” said Moses.
With his old basic phone, Moses would have to drop it off at the local supermarket first thing in the morning and leave it there to charge until lunchtime when he would return to pick it up. It would cost him on average KSh 700 a week and lose 6 hours a day of usage.
“I knew if I had a smartphone then I could do more, connect with more buyers, sell more fish without the struggle of going to market and hoping to find customer. When I heard about Azuri PayGo solar from others in my community, I moved quick to install the system and the same day I purchased my smartphone.”
From Smartphone to Smart Business
As a result, Moses has tripled his monthly income from KSh 5,000 to KSh 20,000 since switching to a smartphone, and does not waste time charging outside the home.
As soon has he picked up his smartphone, Moses joined a WhatsApp group of buyers that includes hotel owners and market sellers from across the region and each day he uploads photos of his catch, be it Tilapia, Nile Perch or Dagaa, for buyers to view and purchase. Finding buyers in advance has given Moses financial security and more flexible working time: instead of travelling to market, Moses prepares his fish without waste or spoilage.
“Sometimes at market I would bring Tilapia, but no one wanted to buy Tilapia that day so then I would have to walk around town and find local shops who would want to buy. Often the fish would go bad because I couldn’t sell them in time,” Moses explains.
“Now I am connected to many buyers from outside of the market and local centre, there is always someone to sell to. If one buyer doesn’t want Tilapia then another will, so there is no fish going bad.”
In fact, Moses has a regular group of buyers on WhatsApp who put in orders and pay through the MCo-op Cash app. He has so many orders, that to keep up with demand he has had to employ two young fishermen to help fulfil the daily requests.
Moses used to be able to catch 50 fish, maybe 60 on a fruitful morning he says, then rush to market to sell the catch. Now he leaves the fishing to his two young employees who catch on average 100 fish, and Moses gets on with selling and preparing the fish for buyers to pick up.
The additional income has enabled Moses to save and purchase 2 hectares of land on which he has planted 400 eucalyptus trees. Once the trees reach the right maturity, he plans to sell the plants for around KSh 1,500 each, netting him KSh 600,000. He is also building a new home for his family on the land.
Moses says he has always dreamed of owning more fishing boats and he almost has enough saved now to make this aspiration a reality. Having lived in the present for so long, Moses is excited to plan for the future now he can make savings and predict income.
“I have always wanted to have two or three boats and now it is no longer just a dream, it is going to be reality,” explains Moses excitedly.