Under Light Up Liberia, Mercy Corps Builds Marketing Capacity of Solar Retailers

MONROVIA, Montserrado – To improve the market for solar power in Liberia, Mercy Corps has provided several marketing materials to retailers of solar equipment.

Earlier this year, the NGO provided at least 10 local solar retailers with a set of banners, branded t-shirts, business cards, fliers, a megaphone, sign posts and technical tools for product repairs to help the businesses in their last mile distribution activities.

The initiative was part of the organization’s three-year European Union-funded Light Up Liberia program that seeks to increase access to affordable, sustainable, and scalable energy services for the rural poor.

The organization hopes it can reduce poverty and improve living conditions in Liberia by extending solar energy to villages and reducing the use of charcoal and wood as fuel.

Mercy Corps, in its renewable energy push, has been supporting businesses that retail solar equipment and appliances that use clean energy.

Besides the donations, the organization has helped the businesses gain marketing assistance, technical support, and linked them to other businesses. Additionally, the retailers benefitted from training in account management and compliance with labor laws.

Presenting the items to the businesses, Mercy Corps’ deputy country director, Douglas Cooper, said he was proud of his organization’s support. He said he hopes to see the beneficiaries doing well with the backing they have received.

Meanwhile, the retailers have praised Mercy Corps and assured that they would further develop and sustain their businesses.

Irene Konneh George, the executive director of Universal Empowerment Missions Incorporated and a leading retailer of solar products in the country, said her organization has been retailing solar powered equipment since 2012.

Universal Empowerment Missions Inc. executive director, Irene Konneh George. Photo: Gbatemah Senah

George said her partnership with Mercy Corps has increased her business capacity and visibility, allowing her to reach out to more rural dwellers, especially women and girls, her organization’s primary target.

“We are in the business of training vulnerable women and girls in areas of peer study and economic empowerment… and the solar lamps are essential tools for them,” she said.

“Most times, when they return from their various places of work and businesses, they meet at night to hold meetings and pay their daily savings, using solar lamps.”

The CEO of Sjedi Green Energy, Royston Gbelia, described his business partnership with Mercy Corps as a great initiative.

Gbelia said local businesses need all the assistance to grow and develop into sustainable initiatives.

“Their initiative to give us business support and helping us to reach out to communities is making the communities to know more about us,” he said.

He said prior to joining the Mercy Corps network, many of the retailers faced many challenges that affected their ability to reach out to more rural communities.

According to him, he started his business with importing and selling improved cook stoves, before joining the number of solar appliance retailers.

Featured photo by Gbatemah Senah

Gbatemah Senah

Gbatemah is currently a senior student at the University of Liberia and a recipient of the Jonathan P. Hicks Scholarship for Mass Communications. In 2017, Senah won three Press Union of Liberia awards: Women's Rights Reporter of the Year, Legislative Reporter of the Year, and Land Rights Reporter of the Year.

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