In May 2013, as part of Mercy Corps’ Gates Foundation-funded project, Mercy Corps and d.light began implementing a one-year pilot project to explore the potential for village-based micro-retailers (VBMRs) of solar lanterns in Wajir County. Wajir is a county in north-eastern Kenya with a population of approximately one million people, predominantly living as pastoralists.
The Mercy Corps and d.light pilot project identified twenty individuals in thirteen villages in rural areas of Wajir County, and supported them to become village-based micro-retailers of solar lanterns. Support included training, a 75% grant contribution to their initial purchase of stock, a start-up kit consisting of a t-shirt and cap, and on-going business mentoring and advice. The project also worked with two sub-distributors (SDs) in Wajir Town, who purchased solar lanterns from Sollatek in Nairobi (the national distributor for d.light products in Kenya).