Thea is a mother of two, and in November 2014, she started renting a solar home system to Kamworks. In only two months, she has seen improvements in both her personal and professional lives.
“We’ve been waiting for the electricity for years”
Thea lives in a small village in the province of Kampong Thom. Her house is only one hour from the city, but it is not connected to the grid. “We’ve been waiting for the electricity for years, said Thea, but it hasn’t come yet.” And like most of her neighbors, she had to use car batteries to meet her power needs.
Yet, this was not a satisfactory solution for Thea, who runs a small restaurant in the evening. The light was not bright enough; the batteries would discharge quickly; and allowing her clients to watch the television would cost her a lot of money. “We had no choice but to close the restaurant at 8 or 9 pm.”
“They were professional”
In the province of Kampong Thom, most rural people are aware of solar energy, and Thea was no exception. In fact, it had been a long time since she began to think of making the leap.
In the nearby city, there are many solar panel shops, and it is not uncommon for her to meet sales representatives in the rural areas. “I couldn’t help but be wary, said Thea. A friend of mine once bought a solar panel to a seller who had come to his house. He paid in advance, but the man never delivered the product.”
In October 2014, though, Kamworks’ agents came to her village. They installed a solar home system in the village chief’s house for two months. Then, they organized a community meeting to present the company and explain their rental service. “I had never heard of Kamworks before, continued Thea, but I liked them immediately. They were professional, came back several times, and I could see that their system was efficient and reliable. And their offer was very attractive!”
It took her only a few days to make up her mind. “Both my husband and I were thrilled with this rental service because there was no risk for us at all. We could try the system for six months, and if we were not satisfied, we just had to stop the contract. So, we decided to go for a 60-watt solar home system.”
“I even close at midnight”
Two months after they subscribed to Kamworks’ rental offer, Thea is certain they have made the right choice. “Our life is much better, she said. We have four LED lamps; we find it easy to charge our devices; we know when the system has discharged. And every six months we get a free maintenance visit by Kamworks’ technicians.”
What’s more, going solar has boosted her business, and never has she generated so much income. “Electricity is not a concern anymore, she said. So whenever I have customers, I am happy to work until late. Some nights I even close at midnight.”
And since she now has enough power to keep the television on, her restaurant is full almost every night!
1. Can you tell us more about Kamworks’ rental service?
This is an innovative offer we’ve developed to expand the access to clean energy in rural Cambodia. People renting our solar systems pay a small fee every month, and they get much more power than they would have with a car battery. We’re the first in Southeast Asia to offer such a service, and the results of our pilot in the province of Kampong Thom have exceeded our expectations.
2. Why is it so popular?
Because rural Cambodians understand rental is in their best interest! There is no risk for them, and they can improve their living conditions. It even helps them generate more income! About a third of our clients leverage the solar power to work longer hours, develop their business or start a new activity. For us, this is a great achievement. Kamworks is a social enterprise: our core mission is to help improve the life of rural people in Cambodia. If they earn more money, they will indeed live better!
3. How could you make rental a reality in the most remote areas of Cambodia?
We’ve used the latest mobile technology to develop our own pay-as-you-go solution, and we have integrated it into our solar systems. Thanks to our partnership with WING, we have automated the payment. Our customers pay for their fees using their mobile phone, and we don’t have to go to the countryside to collect the money. It saves us days! Moreover, our solar systems are GSM-operated. It means we can remotely monitor them, collect data, and use these data for predictive maintenance. It’s key for us to know about our clients’ uses because it helps us to identify their actual needs and deliver a high-quality service. In the future, it will even allow us to extend the batteries’ life!