Raheli is a smart and savvy grandmother. She kickstarted a solar energy business with fellow Maasai women and is full of ideas about how to overcome the challenges of reaching mobile communities with affordable power options.
Raheli lives in a Maasai boma, a semi-permanent family compound, nestled among the thorny acacia trees that dot the wide plains of Tanzania’s northern Longido region.
I have 4 cows that I bought myself.
One of the first things Raheli will tell you is that she owns her own cows, the most valuable unit of currency amongst her people.
Raheli has also raised 6 children and has 4 grandchildren. She is married and her husband has five wives. She joined Solar Sister in July 2017.
I had heard about solar but we didn’t really know what it was. We had not seen it before. When I started with Solar Sister, I learned good things. I learned that there are solar lights that are quality products sold at a low cost.
Raheli started to use solar lights before selling them and found the benefits extraordinary. She didn’t have to buy kerosene anymore: “Now it’s like I have electricity at home!”
A Moveable Solar Feast
The communities near to Raheli’s boma are largely made up of Maasai family bomas spread across the brushy landscape. Raheli knows that portable solar power is very popular amongst her Maasai communities, especially to charge phones and bright light to protect their herds at night. She walks to other bomas and to weekly markets to sell her products. Sometimes she bands together with fellow Solar Sister entrepreneurs to lower transport costs.
Raheli uses her own solar lights to take care of her animals. “If a goat breaks out of the enclosure, I can go looking for it with a good bright light. At night, after I’m done cooking and I’m going to bed, I put the light outside to protect the animals from hyena and even leopards.”
For Raheli, she sees women as the ones who can change things.
“If I’m to take care of the house, I do so myself. I don’t have to ask for money, I don’t have to wait on him. If he has money, he goes to buy things to entertain himself. Really, the woman is the house.”