It is easy to take energy for granted when it is literally just a flick of a switch away. But there are currently 1.3 billion people living off-grid, and this lack of access to light is detrimental to safety, education, economic activity and community life.
The Dutch-designed WakaWaka Power is a solar-powered device that has great utility across the world, doubling up as a backup charger and light for urban users and for those living off grid it provides a compact and efficient source of energy that is not only life enhancing but potentially life-saving.
People who do not have access to the conventional energy grid are often dependent on toxic, dangerous and dirty kerosene lamps for lighting. Kerosene lamps result in 300 000 deaths per year and millions of mutilations from lamp-related burns. The effects on the lungs from an indoor kerosene lamp equals smoking two packs of cigarettes per day and the use of kerosene costs an average of 20% of a daily family income.
Additionally, by providing 3 hours of extra light per day, the WakaWaka can increase study time and greatly improve school grades. It supports livelihoods by extending working hours and also improves health care conditions.
By soaking up the sun during the day, these pocket-sized solar power stations can provide up to 40 hours of efficient lighting, or enough energy to fully charge a mobile phone or other handheld devices.
The original WakaWaka Light idea was developed in 2010 by Maurits Groen and Camille van Gestel with the Dutch high-tech solar company, Intivation. They determined that the light needed to be compact, low cost and have various ways to position it.
Together with the support of carbon finance experts Do-Inc, they set off to pave the way for an ambitious project: to light up every one who was still living in darkness.
By January 2012, production of the world’s most efficient solar LED lamp was underway thanks to a successful crowd-funding project on Kickstarter.
The WakaWaka Light got a lot of publicity from around the world, and drew the attention of businesses and NGOs alike. It swiftly reached individuals in every single African country and purchase inquiries surged in from 96 countries around the world.
Consumers also embraced the WakaWaka Light, and their positive response proved that the cross-subsidy sustainable business model was working, and had the potential to make a significant impact in the world.
Funding the production of the WakaWaka Power was fulfilled for a second time by the enthusiastic backers on crowd-funding sites around the world, including Kickstarter. A ‘Buy one, Give one’ campaign raised more than $700 000 and provided 12 000 LED lamps to Haitian families without electricity at the same time.
The need grew exponentially as the crisis worsened. Partnering with the International Rescue Committee and Stichting Vluchteling, a new wave of WakaWakas are being sent to Syria.
Compact and efficient, they deliver a source of power and light that suits a variety of leisure and work activities, as well as offering a great back-up supply for emergency situations. They are also desirable products in an urban environment where people are on the go and wish to stay connected.
Aside from admiring its design credentials, what attracts many people to WakaWaka products is the social venture aspects of the business model. For each WakaWaka Power that is sold, the company donates $10 to the WakaWaka Foundation, which uses the money to administer micro-loans, finance entrepreneurial education where it’s most needed, and to subsidise the purchase of these units for those living without access to electricity or lights.
The WakaWaka story is inspiring, and there is a sense of satisfaction in knowing that every purchase goes some way towards tackling the problem of energy poverty. There are few products on the market that have so successfully forged symbiotic relationships between consumers in the developed world and those living ‘at the base of the pyramid’.
If you wish to know more about WakaWaka or would like to provide support to the WakaWaka Foundation, we recommend a visit to the WakaWaka website. http://waka-waka.com/
During a project in South Africa where they successfully lobbied for a contract to reduce the carbon footprint of the 2010 FIFA World Cup soccer championship, they became aware of the great need for sustainable off-grid lighting.
Inspired by an idea from Frans Biegstraaten and Rik Ruts from the Dutch high tech solar company, Intivation, a super-efficient solar lamp went into production less than two years later. During the early stages of development, the team was focused primarily on cutting carbon emissions. They did not fully grasp the implications of living without light and grid electricity or the tremendous benefits offered by safe, sustainable and affordable light and power. Today, WakaWaka has positively impacted the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around the world.
Why WakaWaka? In Swahili, WakaWaka means ‘Shine Bright’. It also has alternative meanings in other languages such as Bantu: ‘Go do it!’
People who support WakaWaka either directly or indirectly include VIPs such as Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Andrea Bocelli, George Soros, James Hansen, Lester Brown, Paul Gilding, CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies, royalty from around the world, esteemed Presidents and Ambassadors, directors of international NGOs and over 8000 individuals who have supported WakaWaka financially during their crowd funding projects.
The revolutionary WakaWaka solar LED lamp has won four awards in the Accenture Innovation Awards (AIA).
- To get further information or to explore products, visit the WakaWaka website
- Find out more about NGO activities at the WAKA WAKA Foundation website
- Follow WakaWaka on Facebook
- Get the latest WakaWaka news via Twitter
- Watch WakaWaka videos on YouTube
- See WakaWaka photos on Instagram and Flickr
Photo Credits: WakaWaka, Oliver Born/Terre & Nature (Kofi Annan Foundation), Omar Alkhani (WakaWaka hand held in Syria), Mariene and Martien Witsenburg (Woman eating by WakaWaka Light in the Philippines).
WakaWaka features in the May 2014 edition of Rhine Capital Partners monthly investment updates.
- On 21st May 2014