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Brave Mhouie recently celebrated his 23rd birthday in his home in Mzuzu, Malawi, surrounded by family and friends. He had much to celebrate, including his work helping neighbors harness solar energy to generate income and improve their way of life.

Name: Brave Mhouie

Occupation: Field Officer, Solar Aid

Location: Mzuzu, Malawi

His Solar Story: New opportunities through a job in the solar industry

His Bright Hope: To provide the people of Malawi with a cheap, clean, health-friendly energy source

Brave grew up in a typical household in Malawi, where only an estimated 7% of people have access to grid-tied electricity. Brave’s enthusiasm and intelligence propelled him forward, initially in secondary school where he was recruited to teach younger students. Later, because of his influence as an active member in his youth group, Brave was hired by SolarAid, a UK-based organization that brings clean, renewable power to developing countries by mobilizing teams of young people.

As a full-time Field Officer for SolarAid, Brave finds groups of young Malawians who want to start their own micro-solar business. SolarAid provides local entrepreneurs with “kits” for assembly and resale, each of which hold a micro-solar panel producing enough energy to power a cell phone, small electric shaver, radio, or LED light bulb.

SolarAid also provides community organizations with larger solar panels, which, in addition to the micro-panels, are “changing people’s lives each and every day,” says Brave. Local entrepreneurs have found innovative, income-generating uses for this new source of energy: Roof-top panels at a local youth center are used for powering car batteries, which in turn run radios; they also power a TV, allowing the community to gather for movies, which often opens the door to dialogue around local social issues. Access to solar power is also improving health, as families have been able to replace paraffin lamps with fume-free LED lighting.

Brave’s dream is to become a doctor and travel outside the country. He has been admitted to the University in Lilongwe, one of 900 admitted out of the 30,000 who take the entry exam. Brave’s work with SolarAid has provided him with the economic resources to realize his academic goals, while hardening his resolve to some day use his medical training to give back to his community.

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