Baseco is one of the poorest neighborhoods in Manila. To get there, you need to take the only road which goes to the shanty town, which is located on a peninsula of the capital of the Philippines. At the end of a succession of muddy alleys, the place reveals all its squalor: the paths are strewn with waste in which children play. Mangy dogs roam in front of the makeshift dwellings made of corrugated iron and wood.
In the air, dozens of electric wires are all tangled up. Yet the shanty town is not officially connected to the city’s electricity grid. The lines are diverted and the electricity sold illegally at a very high price. But up until now, it was the only way for families to light their homes in this neighborhood abandoned to its fate.
The NGO Entrepreneurs of the World has decided to address this situation by taking action with the ATE Co program. After several months of tests on various electrification solutions, it was decided to opt for a solar kit equipped with a pay-as-you-go system: the beneficiary families pay 20 pesos a day (34 euro cents) for an electrical capacity that allows them to light three light bulbs and recharge a mobile phone. It is on average half the price of illegal electricity or candles. After fourteen months, the users become the owner of their kit and can make considerable savings on their daily expenses. This is a revolution in the lives of some 400 families who are benefiting from this system in several shanty towns in Manila.
The solar kit, developed by the start-up SunKing, is in the form of a box with a keyboard, three lamps, a small solar panel and several switches. ATE Co wants to train and recruit shanty town residents for the installation of these kits, both to increase their equipment capacity and to involve communities in this program.
The collectors are equipped with an application, developed by Aganza, which allows them to reference people who are up to date with their payments. This application also recently started operating offline and synchronizes with the overall database when access to Internet is restored.
Thanks to the pay-as-you-go system, poor families no longer get into debt and pay every day, according to their means. In the event of non-payment or absence, users are given 30 days to decide whether to keep the kit or return it. If they decide to do without it, they can pass it on to another user who will benefit from the lease which has already been paid.
Building on the success of this program, Entrepreneurs of the World wants to export the model to the regions, in northern Manila, where residents have no access to electricity and no prospects of being connected in the near future. The project involves installing a solar electricity grid which connects houses together, while maintaining the daily payment system. By next year, the objective is to equip 1,000 families and double the number of staff working on this program.
ATE Co is also exploring the possibility of extending its range of kits with more powerful models on which it will be possible to supply a TV and a fan.
Finally, the model is going to be replicated in Burkina Faso, where the pay-as-you-go system is also seen as an effective solution to ensure access to the service without causing any debt.