In 2012 ARTI began working with the TRANSMAR Group (www.transmargroup.com), one of the world’s leading suppliers of cocoa products to the confectionary, ice cream and bakery industries, to implement a dynamic solar energy program for rural communities in East Africa.
Transmar, which was founded in 1980 and has services that span the complete cocoa supply chain from bean sourcing, logistics, processing, and risk mitigation to semi-finished products, approached the ARTI team to develop a program to support cocoa producing communities in a manner that reflected their long term commitment to sustainability.
In July 2012 TRANSMAR with ARTI and its local partner, HAI Tanzania, launched the “Solar Ambassador Program” which would support secondary school students and teachers to access affordable modern solar lighting.
Secondary school students were chosen because they are the citizens and decision makers of tomorrow. The pilot project was designed to empower teachers with knowledge and experience of using modern lighting products thus becoming “Solar Ambassadors” to their communities. Solar lanterns were given to the top performing students in each class as well as a two bulb lighting system for teachers.
Further, the TRANSMAR Group also sponsored the technical training of students and teachers from each school on repairs and maintenance of solar lights. Each trained technician will also be equipped with the tools required to utilise the training received.
As part of its commitment ARTI will provide follow-up with schools on a regular basis, liaising with local sales representatives to ensure all questions answered and needs met. ARTI will also provide continued support for repairs of LED light systems and additional education and training as needed for students and teachers.
The pilot project demonstrated the sustainability of the program;
- The secondary school students who benefit from the project will go forth in to the world knowing the benefits of using solar lighting vis-a-vis fossil fuels. They will have experienced the advantages of accepting modern lighting products and will be “Solar Ambassadors” to their communities.
- The students who will be trained and equipped to be solar technicians will have learnt a new skill which they will continue to use. Most of them will also use the new skills as a profession and increase their incomes.
- Indoor air pollution (IAP) will be reduced in homes.
- Risks of fire and burns will be eliminated for the users.
- Homes will have a brighter light (6 times brighter than a kerosene lantern) and therefore the quality of life will improve in 400 homes.
The pilot project proved to be an overwhelming success and the lessons learned are currently being utilized by ARTI and TRANSMAR to develop a more comprehensive strategy that will both benefit communities in which TRANSMAR operates and reflect their committeemen to long term partnership and community development.