Solar lamps for students to study at night

Francis Mbewe

Chipata, Zambia

100% repaid



Francis Mbewe

Member since

March 2016

On-time repayments

348 installments  •  77%

About Me

Growing up in a Village and raised by great grandmother, i studied under a kerosene lamp and every month i missed school due to sickness caused by the fumes from the kerosene lamps. Its an experience i don't wish any child or woman to go through. My great grandmothers meager earning she used to have was mostly spent on my medication, while my uncles were busy abusing my aunties and spending their money on beers. I grew up knowing the challenges women go through. I grew up knowing that when a woman is empowered then the whole village is empowered. I saw it through my great grandmother Sofia and through my aunties.

Its this experience that has shaped my career path. I chose to be a Social Entrepreneur so that i can create opportunities for women and girls. So that i can enable women and girls have equal accesses to products and services that can put them on a road to economic prosperity.

My Business

For the past 3 years i set up Kukula Solar, a social business that seek to distribute 100,000 solar products to rural and peri urban communities of Zambia. 90% of these solar products will be put in the hands of women and girls so that they can be empowered to do more. For girls, to study for longer hours and for women to work for longer hours. Its here at Zidisha were we launched this social business and together we have distributed over 3,000 solar lanterns. We still have 97,000 solar lanterns to distribute, thats why i invite all our lenders here to help us get these life changing products to the women and girls I'm so passionate about!

Loan Proposal

I want to buy Solar Lamps to resale to students and families in my community who have no access to electricity and still continue using unreliable sources of energy such as kerosene, candles and batteries. The solar lamps costs $10 per unit and i want to buy 30 units with my first loan to sale to 30 students and families.

With this business, my income will grow and help expand my business and the students will benefit a lot through long hours of studying, spending less on lighting because the purchase of a solar lamp will be a one off purchase unlike what they currently do, buying candles and kerosene.

Through this loan, my business will grow by 60% in profits for the first 3 months and will continue its growth to 120% in 9 months of selling the solar lamps.

My Videos

Jan 18, 2021: Impacting lives using zidisha loans





  • Kirk Moore    Jul 9, 2021

    Thanks for paying back early!

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  • Cianna    Jan 18, 2021

    Francis is the best! I am happy to support such an innovative and pro-social entrepreneur! I will continue to lend each time Francis makes a request since he is doing some truly amazing work!

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  • David    Jan 17, 2021

    Loan was originally scheduled to take three months. Despite the pandemic hampering his business, Francis continued making regular payments, completing the loan in 13 months. I appreciate your commitment during a very challenging time.

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  • David    Dec 1, 2019

    Although the loan was for a larger amount, regular payments were received and the loan was paid in full as originally scheduled. I am pleased to be able to help such an amazing project.

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  • TomF925    Mar 7, 2019

    Thanks for sharing your website:
    I certainly recommend everyone have a look. Well done! Also, Zidisha blog has a great article about Francis:

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  • TomF925    Mar 21, 2017

    March 15, 2018. Just a friendly suggestion for everyone to visit Francis' inspiring campaign:
    March 21, 2017
    I am thrilled by each message and each photo that Francis posts in the Discussion. Have a look everyone!

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  • Jan de Wit    Mar 20, 2017

    +1 Francis' enthusiasm
    +1 Francis' story's
    +1 Francis' repayments

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  • BernadetteV    Mar 19, 2017

    Francis many regular repayments and kept us informed about his business. It was a pleasure to lend to him.

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Loan Info

Project Type

Classic Loan

Disbursed amount


Date disbursed

Jul 9, 2016

Repayment status


Projected term

3 months

Cost to entrepreneur

Service fee: $10.12



Manama, Bahrain

TomF925, United States


Vancouver, Canada


Cudahy, United States


United States



Arlington, VA, United States

Stephan W

Witten, Germany



United States

Tom Eggert

Madison, United States


Minneapolis/StPaul, United States

A and A

Canada, Canada

Bo Rosén

Eslöv, Sweden


San Diego, United States


George Bohlender

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia



Sacramento, California, United States

Ask Francis a question about this loan project, share news and photos of your own, or send a simple note of thanks or inspiration.

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  • Francis Mbewe    Nov 23, 2021

    Business is slow and i have been unwell

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  • Francis Mbewe    Nov 21, 2021

    The business has been slow lately and its affecting revenue collections. We are working on it to improve our repayments

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  • Francis Mbewe    Sep 29, 2021

    Slow in business

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  • Francis Mbewe    Aug 18, 2021

    The business has been affected by the COVID Pandemic

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  • Francis Mbewe    Jul 20, 2021

    My city has been hit with the third wave of covid and it's affected the business due to the lockdown of the province.

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  • Francis Mbewe    Jul 13, 2021

    Low sales due to lockdown and some orders have not arrived yet.

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  • Francis Mbewe    Jun 27, 2021

    We have a national lockdown due to covid 19 and our stock of clean cookstoves have not yet reached our stores. will revert back to normal payment once things go back to normal. Thanks

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  • Francis Mbewe    Jun 27, 2021

    There is national lockdown and our clients income has reduced drastically. We have a 21 days total lockdown with the raise in covid cases. will return to my normal repayments once this is lifted. Thanks for understanding and continued support.

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  • Francis Mbewe    Jun 20, 2021

    Thanks for the Pay it Forward funds that I have raised. I will restock clean Cookstove inventory so that I reach more people. Thanks alot

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  • Francis Mbewe    Jun 18, 2021

    The previous Pay it Forward of $49 helped me buy a smartphone to capture data for my customers who are buying clean cookstoves on the rent-to-own model. This is helping my business to efficiently run smoothly in a new district and helping to have customer information instantly.

    Thanks so very much!

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    • (Comment deleted by author)

      • Francis Mbewe    Jun 18, 2021

        Hey laurie,

        Thanks so very much!

        Sure I will send an email to Julia and ask her.

        Thanks for your continued support!

        ZIKOMO. Thankyou

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  • Francis Mbewe    Jun 17, 2021

    Dear Backers,

    Thanks so very much for the funds! I will buy a smartphone that will help me ensure that I capture all the information for my clean cookstoves customers who are buying on Rent to own model.

    I really appreciate you and thanks for your continued support!

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  • Francis Mbewe    Jun 11, 2021

    Thanks so very much to all my backers for these funds! I will be buying a Smartphone to help with my field officer based in Lundazi to record customer's clients who are buying clean cookstoves on a rent-to-own model. This will help if clients record-keeping for after-sales service and also tracking of clients for repayment schedules.

    I really appreciate this and thanks a million!

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  • Francis Mbewe    Jun 7, 2021

    Dear Lenders, Thanks so very much for the loan you lent me. I received the money and managed to order more solar lights and clean cookstoves. We have started the distribution to rural communities and we will keep you posted.

    Thanks again for lending to my social business.

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  • Francis Mbewe    May 12, 2021

    Thanks so very much my lenders for lending me yet another loan! In two day I managed to have my loan fully funded! Zikomo. Thanks a million!

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  • Olly Ishmael    May 10, 2021

    Wonderful project. I wish you every success

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  • wisdom2080    May 10, 2021

    Keep up the great job! Hope you can sell other stuff to increase margins to help more-

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    • Francis Mbewe    May 11, 2021

      You are very right and we are looking for other life-changing products that we can introduce to the communities we serve. Thanks for your support towards growing my business.

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  • Cianna    May 9, 2021

    All the best to you as you continue this important work!

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  • Francis Mbewe    May 8, 2021

    Hello, my lenders,

    I want to thank all of you for your continued support. My success has been made possible because of your continued support and lending me money.

    The last microloan I got of ZMW20,000 helped me to distribute 450 clean cookstoves in Lundazi. The total revenue I made was ZMW112,500 in 3 months and managed to repay the loan and reinvest the other money in my building project for the family house.

    Through your support, I have grown my business and managing to take my two daughters to Private schools.

    I have managed to employ a total of 14 people who are working in my business and helping their families.

    You have helped me turn my ideas into reality and transform many people's lives in rural communities of Zambia.

    Thanks so much for your continued support and looking forward to working with you on my next microloan application.

    Zikomo! Thank you so very much!

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  • Francis Mbewe    Apr 15, 2021

    Greetings to you my lenders,

    The past 2 months have been very interesting at Kukula Solar as we continue to distributing clean cookstoves and solar lamps to villages in Lundazi District. The smiles that we see in these villages are so infectious. Women and girls are happy that they no longer need to walk a long distance to collect firewood for cooking because the clean cookstoves we are selling to them use twigs and cow dung.

    Many rural households now have access to clean solar lighting, something that is helping the whole household.

    We at Kukula Solar are very happy with your continued support

    Thanks so very much and will continue to keep you updated on the developments.


  • Francis Mbewe    Mar 16, 2021

    To my lenders, i want to thank all of you for your continued support in making my business grow. We have started distribution of clean cookstoves to Lundazi and so far the demand for the products is high. We have our Delivery Truck moving from one village to another and we hope to be done with 325 clean cookstove distribution by second-week of April.

    I have tried to add pictures of our work in progress but it seems the add a photo option is currently not working.

    I will send an update with pictures soonest.

    Thanks for the loan and always remember you are part of the impact my business is creating in these rural and slum communities of Eastern Province of Zambia.

    ZIKOMO (Thank you)

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