Charles Shabani Omari, aged 54 years old, is a member of SameKaya SACCOS residing at Hedaru ward, in Kilimanjaro region. He is married to Sara Said Kitivo and they have three children.

Charles runs a hair salon at Hedaru centre, popularly known as Bonge Salon-Big Brother. The salon is connected to electricity from the main grid. However, he says in the beginning, due to frequent power outages, his business was closed most of the time and that meant low income to support a family of five. After pondering the situation for a long period, he resorted to a diesel generator, which he thought would be a long-time solution. Nevertheless, the generator came with its own set of challenges. Charles recalls, “running the generator was very costly.I had to buy three to five litres of diesel every day and it was such an inconvenience due to noise and air pollution. In addition, the generator constantly needed repairs which again was a huge cost to maintain.”

He had heard about solar from different sources before, but the stories were just on lighting.  One day, during the SACCOS meetings, the officials explained about solar technologies and applications. He could not believe his ears! He had not imagined solar could be applied to a wide range of solutions, including running salon appliances.

Charles immediately applied for a loan of TZS 1,000,000, which he repays TZS 94,667 monthly. He is now a very happy man because his profits have doubled and runs the salon without worrying about the power cuts. He says, “I feel like I am running the salon costlessly.” The only cost he felt was the initial cost but he is now in control of energy bills and usage. When asked about challenges, he said, ” I think the only challenge I faced was more of a mentality one. In the beginning I felt that the cost of the solar parts and installation was too high. I am now comfortable because the returns I get from running the salon full time can easily cover my repayment.” He adds, “my customers are equally happy because my business is reliable and they can get services as per their schedules even when the whole of Hedaru has no electricity.”

Charles has not ended here – he has other plans brewing. Since he has experienced the value and convenience of solar, he is planning to access a loan for a solar water pump for his farm. He says he is sure solar technology will change his life and household income, and will enable him to practise sustainable farming.

 Charles’s salon is equipped with a one hundred watts solar panel; one battery and a 500 watts invertor. All of these run the shavers, lights, TV and music system.

SAMEKAYA SACCOS is among the members of TAMFI that have adopted renewable energy technologies financing on their mainstream portfolio.This serves the microfinance mission of impacting communities particularly the underserved.