1.2 billion people around the world have no access to electricity, and hundreds of millions more face regular blackouts. The effects of this energy poverty are enormous. Lacking power and light severely reduces the quality of life. Kerosene lamps are widely used for lighting, yet they are very inefficient, dangerous and expensive, and have extensive health and environmental drawbacks.
WakaWaka ('Shine Bright' in Swahili) develops, manufactures and markets high-tech low-cost solar powered lamps and chargers that are indispensable products both in the developing world and in developed markets. Using the latest in patented solar technology, developed by our partner and market leader Intivation, the WakaWaka Light and WakaWaka Power are true lifesavers for those without electricity. Innovative and super efficient products for those that desire the finest in technology and design, while 'enlightening' people at the base of the pyramid, ending the deadly kerosene-dependence of millions of families.
It has been found that replacing kerosene lamps with off-grid solar powered products saves money, results in better school grades and increases income-generating capacity for families. Burn risks, unhealthy side effects and carbon-emissions are eliminated while the ability to charge mobile phones enables communication and entrepreneurship. Access to local, sustainable energy is a fundamental human right - it empowers, it powers connectivity and it saves lives.
WakaWaka is an impact driven, social venture that fights to abolish energy poverty throughout the world. We are committed to our sustainable business model that makes the distribution of renewable energy-based lighting easy and cost-effective. In essence we operate as any other business, but proceeds made from selling WakaWaka products at competitive prices are used to make them available to off-grid communities around the world at an affordable rate.
Social venture, sustainable enterprise, benefit corporation: there are many ways to describe how WakaWaka works. Fact is that we believe that the combination of business and aid is the best way to generate positive impact. We have committed ourselves to harnessing the power of business for social good. Our whole team works for this cause and strongly believes that our business model is the way that will allow us to have the biggest impact as well as being the future of development aid.
Offering solutions for the 1.2 billion people who live off-grid, our products help make families self-sufficient, sustainable and safe. Solutions that fulfill basic needs, that work properly and keep on working. Solutions that are sustainable and affordable for families living on approximately $2/day.
Story so Far
WakaWaka’s story began in 2010, with founders Maurits Groen and Camille van Gestel. They discovered a great need for sustainable off-grid lighting when they were in South Africa for a competition to green the entire 2010 FIFA World Cup soccer championship with LED lighting. After they won, they decided something had to be done about the lack of safe and affordable lighting among families living at the so-called ‘Base of the Pyramid’. Two years later WakaWaka went into production. Inspired by an idea from Frans Biegstraaten & Rik Wuts from the high tech solar company Intivation, the founders decided 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.
This sturdy, highly efficient, sustainable, solar-powered LED lamp is affordable for those living on $2 per day. After months of perfecting the design the first prototypes of the WakaWaka Light were soaking up the sun. In January 2012 we crowdfunded the production in a very successful campaign, and six months later the world’s most efficient solar LED lamp hit the market with a bang.
The little lamp on a mission 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. Online ratings couldn’t have been more positive and independent research showed that the WakaWaka Light was indeed twice as efficient as any other solar lamp on the market. More importantly, it showed that the cross-subsidy sustainable business model was working, and had the potential to make a significant impact in the world.
In 2013 WakaWaka launched a new model – the WakaWaka Power – that combines the original lamp with the ability to charge phones and other handheld devices while still providing hours of bright, safe light. Funding the production of the ‘most compact power station in the world’ was fulfilled for a second time by the enthusiastic backers on crowdfunding sites around the world. This ‘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.
Before the Powers reached the market in the spring of 2013, we launched a similar donation campaign for conflict-hit Syrian refugees. 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.