Midwife at Salone Health Care Clinic
SolarWorks! is a Dutch company that started in 2008 as a manufacturer of solar products, with sales all over Southern Africa. In 2016 they switched to distributing solar home systems only through PAYGo due to the wide availability of lower-priced good quality equipment. SolarWorks! currently operate in Mozambique and Malawi, where they have installed more than 60,000 solar home systems and employ around 250 people.
As a 100% PAYGo business, their income used to be extremely influenced by macro factors that affect customers like Cyclone Idai in Mozambique in 2019 and the global pandemic starting in 2020, so they expanded into solar water pumps and electrification of rural health clinics. With funds from USAID, they launched a project in Mozambique after Idai to electrify health clinics in the Sofala region, which had been the hardest hit by the cyclone. To date, they have electrified 100 health clinics and will have reached 250 by the end of the year across Mozambique and Malawi, with more funds provided by USAID and GiZ.
Installing independent solar systems in health clinics is not a new idea but, traditionally, the challenge has been maintenance. In one case, they installed a solar system in a health clinic that already had 3 other systems: they just were not working. Development partners have already realized this oversight and current projects include a requirement for a maintenance plan, which is a good fit with the PAYGo model, already set up to take care of maintenance issues.
SolarWorks! is targeting small clinics in rural areas, where they already work distributing solar home systems. Tech-wise it is a small step since these hospitals have very little equipment and their systems power lighting, phone charging and some laptops. However, their impact is massive in the communities. The hospitals can deliver healthcare 24/7. When a baby has to be delivered at night, the midwife doesn’t need to hold a torch in her mouth while working to see what she’s doing. She now has light to be able to provide her services. The clinics also become focal points for their communities, since frequently they are the only locations with light and phone charging capabilities.