Muhammad Ali, Pakistan

Entrepreneur and owner of a solar lamp distributed through IFC’s Lighting Pakistan program.

I'm 35 years old. I raise cows, work as a welder, and sometimes as a laborer. I have four boys, six girls and my wife, a total of 11 people, to look after.  I am usually in the city around eight hours during the day and get home at 5pm. I look after our house and animals in the evening.

I use loans from Tameer Bank to help with my animals, fix up their pens, and buy food. My recent loan was for 50,000 Pakistani rupees ($500). It is easy for us to pay the loan off as my sons are also working in the city.  I pay an installment of 3,700 Pakistani rupees every month, of which 180 Pakistani rupees is for the light.

The solar light comes in handy when I have to milk, feed, and take care of the cows at night. The lamp is also very helpful for charging mobile phones. That way, I can stay in touch with my children and with my workplace. We have had the light now for over six months and are very happy.  We won't let anyone borrow it, as it is precious to us and we don't want to see it damaged.

We don't have power for three-hour stretches at a time. I prefer the solar light over candles and oil lamps because we couldn't take those outside as they would go out in the wind. The solar light is convenient and easy to use.

Our community has changed ever since solar lights have been introduced in the village. Around 20 households that I know of have them. Before, everyone would stay indoors at night. But now in the evening it is like a festival outside by the local stream. Children and families step out and socialize. The local store has a solar light, the ice seller has a solar light; everything is lit and alive. The whole community is more at ease.