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    Entries in products (6)


    Daw Win Thein is not a Proximity Customer, here’s why


    Daw Win Thein, 54, and her husband, U Sein Thaung, have some of the greenest thumbs we’ve come across. From a chili bush hidden amid the rows of betel plants, to the majestic pineapple plants that line the edge of their 1.5-acre plot, there’s something growing in every nook and cranny. The bounty of it is impressive, especially when Daw Win Thein explains that the long gourds, betel nuts and fruits are all for household consumption. For income, the pair grows chrysanthemums and betel leaves, which they irrigate with the help of an engine pump. 

    Daw Win looks apologetic as she explains that she has nothing against Proximity’s products; her husband first purchased a pump in 2004, and both their daughters use treadle pumps that have been working since 2006. But now that the family has a diesel engine, she only needs her treadle pump as a safe guard in case the engine is broken or to draw water for household use.

    Daw Win has nothing to apologize for. The fact that she’s been able to upgrade is a sign that Proximity’s products are working. Before the family first purchased the pump in 2006, they barely found enough time to tend to the betel plants, and the hand pump she was using made Daw Win’s chest hurt. Over the years, Daw Win doubled the number of betel plants that her family harvested, and she started growing chrysanthemums to supplement their income. It was this additional income that allowed the family to purchase a diesel engine. 

    In essence, what Daw Win’s story tells us is that Proximity’s products are helping households throughout Myanmar save, improve their farms, and access machinery that was previously out of reach. But what does her story mean for our business model? After all, as a social enterprise we rely on business principles to generate social impact, so what happens now that Daw Win has outgrown our treadle pumps?

    It means we go back to the drawing board. It means we look at recent growth in the diesel engine market as a design challenge. We learn everything we can about these engines and their benefits, to see how we can help smallholder farmers in Myanmar access solutions that are even more affordable and sustainable. Proximity’s design team is nearing the end of a two-year project to create a solar-powered irrigation product that will help farmers like Daw Win upgrade once again, from a diesel engine that relies on costly fossil fuels to a clean energy solution that’s durable and cost-saving. Looking back on the past decade, this upcoming product is the natural continuation of a process that began with Daw Win's first treadle pump back in 2004.  


    Handsfree Farming

    Ko Thar Htoo was born without hands. Yet, when asked what the biggest hinderance to his success as a farmer was, his answer was: water shortages in summer months. For six months of every year it was near impossible for him to get enough water to irrigate the crops that he sells commercially. 

    In 2011 he bought his first Yetagon treadle pump from Proximity Designs. Now, he is able to work his farm year round by himself, treading to get water, and watering using a sprinkler hose held between his wrists. At the end of his first season, he made 250,000 kyats from his vegetable sales. An amount, and a story, that has inspired many other farmers in his area to turn their domestic plots in to year round money making ventures with a Yetagon pump.


    44 days to launch: What's in a name?

    Put it in your dairies: On September 8th, Proximity will launch our 9th season by revealing two brand spanking new products.

    We can't say too much but we can say that a whole lot of work has gone in to them, and we're pretty sure they'll be our best products yet. However, before we launch them on the market to find out, there's a few things we need to finish first. One of the more colourful tasks being finding the new products new names that will capture the imaginations of our rural customers.

    Product naming is an art form, and a lot of fun. We spent a few minutes one morning brainstorming options and then took the most popular ones out to the field to get a farmers perspective. You can see some of the candidates in the photo but we won't be revealing the winner until September 8th.

    Stay tuned.



    Three reasons we love solar lighting

    Our d.light solar lights have been in villages in the Ayeyarwady Delta for nearly two months now and we've been been getting some really interesting feedback from users. Here are three of of our favourite stories:

    The mid-wife

    Imagine giving birth to your first child in pitch darkness, or just by the light of a candle flickering in and out in the breeze. Thankfully, for expectant mothers in Shwebo Su village this will no longer be their reality because there's a new light in town. Midwife and nurse, Daw Tin Tin Mya, purchased an S250 in early June, and has since successfully delivered three babies by the light of it. She has also been able to visit sick patients at night much easier recently and they are comforted by the strong light she brings with her.

    The future doctor

    Lei Lei Su is a 12 year old student with big dreams. This little girl from Mi Chaung Aing village wants to be a doctor, but before getting her S10 solar light this was just a pipe dream. Coming home from school she would help her mother with chores and farm work and come nightfall she would try to study by candle light, only to be aggravated by mosquito bites and strong winds that would blow out the light. Now, with the S10 she can work inside the mosquito net without risk of fire, and no matter what the weather is doing, the light won't go out.

    The survivor

    Daw Aye Aye Myint's 12-year-old son is one lucky boy. Every night he works until dark fall in his family’s betel fields. Before, he used to walk back in the darkness, blind to the dangers that surround his feet. Since purchasing the S1 solar lantern he has been using that to light his way home and it's helped him out in more ways than expected. One time, when walking home from the fields, the lantern's beam illuminated the body of a very rare, very poisonous snake on the path in front of the boy. Just in time, he leapt back out of the way before the snake could lunge at him. Terrified he ran home the other way, sure to hold the lantern out at full power ahead of him.


    PYAPON: Ind.structable d.light

    We took some of our new solar lights down to Pyapon in the Ayerwaddy Delta to throw out of coconut trees, submerge in water buckets and run over with a motorbike. We did this to prove how tough they are. And because it was fun.

    Here's the video of our little experiment, complete with genuine reactions of villagers seeing these lights for the first time.