Quetsol in Guatemala Brings Light to Rural Homes
Light is something most people take for granted because it's something to which they have access. In Guatemala however, there are as many as 500,000 homes that are outside the reach of the power companies' grid system.
For these people, light is heartily welcomed because otherwise, at night, they have no way of working, reading, or cooking without using candles or a gas-powered generator.
Imagine not being able to flip a switch to get light at night, but instead having to light a candle every time you want to see after it gets dark. It's an expensive way and challenging way to live.
Native to Guatemala, a young man named Manuel Antonio Aguilar created a company called Quetsol
, which is a company that produces solar powered lighting kits and solar panels. He purposely started his company in his home country because he wanted to benefit his people with his invention.
The development of the outer rural villages was definitely stunted simply from the absence of light once the sun went down each day. Now, thanks to Manuel and his solar kit, these people have light and hope.Guatemalan People Wary at First
When Manuel and his staff began visiting the rural villages, the people were wary at first. They had been visited by representatives of power companies before and had been promised, with a $25 down payment from each family, that the company would be back to connect them to the grid. But, the company didn't return.
The good part about the solar kits is that the people could actually see what they would receive for their investment of roughly $245. Considering that most of the families already spend about $200 in 10 months for candles, the cost of the light kit is very
reasonable as it's a renewable energy source and can be used for years.
Families who have difficulty coming up with the entire amount up front (this is a lot of money for rural families), Quetsol set up financing through the Bank of Guatemala for roughly $13 per month.Benefits of Quetsol Solar Kits
The kits produced by Quetsol are multi-tasking! They not only provide light to rural homes, they also have the capability to power cell phones and computers.
Families who had cell phones but no electricity to charge them would regularly walk one to two hours round trip to a neighboring village or city to charge their phone each week.
Each kit consists of a solar panel, a battery, and large light bulbs. Given that they are powered by solar energy, they're a self-sustaining kit!
It's so easy to use that both adults and children alike can use the kit once they've been shown how.
The best part is that rural families who buy a kit no longer have to invest in candles, have the danger of a fire breaking out in their home from a candle that gets knocked over, and they don't have to buy generators or the gas to power them.
The money that went for those things previously can now be spent on important things like the children and needs for the family. Their homes will be cleaner and they'll be breathing cleaner air!Quetsol's Future
As of 2010, Quetsol had provided nearly 2,000 kits to rural homes in Guatemala. With those kits, nearly 11,000 people are enjoying light during the evening hours.
The goal of the company is to install around 50,000 solar light kit systems by December 2014, which would provide light to over a quarter of a million people.