Qutub Ali Shah, Pakistan

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

I sell household items. I started this business 17 years ago after my father passed away. I had to take care of my family from a young age. I have 14 people in my family, and my two younger brothers and I all work. They drive rickshaws. I want to take good care of my four daughters and to educate them properly.

I was advised to take bank loans to help me take care of my family. With the help of these loans, I got married myself, married off my brothers, and grew my business. I started out selling oil, but then gradually added detergent and other products. I take my cart around into about 10 villages every week.

We got this solar lamp when my wife took out a loan for 25,000 Pakistan rupees ($250) for her stitching business.

During summers, I go out early in the morning and stay out late. During the day nobody wants to step out of their homes because of the heat. This light is wonderful when I take my trips in the evening. 

The electricity supply here is highly irregular. I have had the solar lamp for a couple of months now. We had a torch at home before this. When I leave for business at night with the solar lamp, my wife keeps the torch at home. However, the torch only lasts about an hour, while the solar light lasts through the night. We would like to get another one if we can.

At home we use it for household work and to charge our phones, which I need for my business and to stay in touch with my family. It takes me just 10 days in a month to  pay my loan installments.