Established in 2009, Sun Transfer is an asset-financing company disseminating high-quality solar home systems to rural and peri-urban households in Kenya.
In 2020, as the pandemic hit, sales from Sun Transfer’s microfinance activities began to drop. With travel restrictions limiting field marketing activities, the company switched to digital exhibitions, videos and virtual group meetings to keep its message ‘out there’ while targeting specific geographical areas to optimise income generation.
With energy declared an essential service by the Kenyan Government, and a noticeable spike in household demand, Sun Transfer was able to continue distributing PAYGO solar home systems via its 12 solar centres. It also plugged into an opportunity to pivot to alternative markets with the launch of a new product: the Sun Transfer Solar Fish Lamp which replaces the use of conventional but harmful kerosene lamps. The Solar Fish Lamp is used by fishermen at night to attract fish into their nets. Sales of the product rose from 20 in June 2020 to 474 by December 2020.
Not only did this product account for 20% of Sun Transfer’s total annual income, but it also helped to sustain a vital rural value chain. However, the purchase of the lamps would not have been possible without the AECF’s intervention, as Gathu Kirubi, CEO of SunTransfer, explains: “We received US$ 200,000 in emergency funding through the AECF COVID Relief Fund. This support was a gamechanger. It enabled us to maintain our inventory and retain staff during this difficult period. It also helped us access the Fish Lamps and open up a new income stream”