Lendahand Blog

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Time: the most precious thing in the world

Written by Lucas Weaver on 22 November 2019

Recently, a group of our investors paid their own way to travel to Zambia and visit a few of our projects, guided by Lendahand Founder Peter Heijen and Investment Manager Thomas Plaatsman. We wanted to bring you a few of their stories so you can share in their experience. The following is a guest post written by Heini Withagen. 

Time: the most precious thing in the world 

By: Heini Withagen

Everyone who has done in business in Africa knows that you need patience to get things done there. Everything from dealing with the local administration to transportation takes time. A lot of time. 

Recently, I was on a visit to Zambia with the Lendahand team (Founder Peter Heijen and Investment Manager Thomas Plaatsman) and several other investors just like myself. We visited a number of impact investment projects Lendahand is involved in through their crowdfunding platform. 

The "time-problem"

In Zambia, I was struck by the fact that the “time-problem” is rooted much deeper in Zambian society (and probably in several other African countries but my experience is limited to just Zambia) than it is in the Netherlands. 

Everyday life for the local people is a real struggle, from getting water and groceries to cooking and traveling. People spend a lot of time getting the essentials of daily life arranged for their families. 

Progress in their lives can come from steps I have taken for granted during all of mine. The central theme in all this is time. 

For example, cooking takes time. Each meal typically takes about 2 hours to prepare, adding up to about 5-6 hours per day. In Zambia, most families cook on charcoal in their house. Besides the toxic fumes, it’s a very slow process.

Improvements through efficiency

One huge improvement has been the use of much more efficient stoves which make the in-house cooking less dangerous and much faster. Emerging Cooking Solutions in Zambia distributes a cooking stove fuelled by wood pellets. 

Lendahand provides them with the necessary funds to get the distribution network up-and-running to provide families with the possibility to buy a stove and pay for it in installments. A Zambian family using the new stove saves about 2-3 hours per day. 

For many families in Zambia, the day ends around 18:00, as soon as the sun sets. Regular lighting solutions are not available for most, and even for those who do have electricity in their house, the power grid is very unreliable. 

Extra time can be achieved through the use of solar panels and LED lighting. A simple setup consisting of a small solar panel with 2 LED-lights and a small battery provides children the possibility to study at night. We visited Vitalite, who offers entry-level solar solutions with 12-18 months payment options. We heard about their slow progress in setting up a distribution network all over Zambia and the incredible effort it takes to show people the possibilities of their solutions. 

Seeing the impact for myself

For me, an important factor in investing in projects is the direct impact they can create in someone’s everyday life. In the above-mentioned examples, for me, it is the “buying of extra time” that struck me as so basic but so very necessary to be able to progress in life. 

The extra time can improve a family’s direct well-being as well as their long-term possibilities, through more education as well as having sufficient time to increase their monthly income. That’s something in which I will happily invest.