1.3 billion people around the world - a quarter of humanity - 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 a family's quality of life. Kerosene lamps are widely used for lighting, but 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 the West. Using the latest in patented solar technology developed by our parnter 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 want the finest in technology and design, while 'enlightening' people at the base of the pyramid, bringing an end to the deadly kerosene-dependence of millions of families.
Studies have shown that replacing kerosene lamps with off-grid solar powered products saves money, results in better school grades for kids and increases income-generating capacity for families as a whole. Burn risk, 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 in the West, at competitive prices, are used to make them available to off-grid communities around the world at a more affordable price.
Social venture; sustainable enterprise; benefit corporation - there are many names for the type of work WakaWaka does. The 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 buisness model is both the way that will allow us to have the biggest impact, and the future of development aid.
Offering solutions for the 1.3 billion people who live off-grid, our products help make families self-sufficient, sustainable and safe. We create solutions that fulfill basic needs, that work properly and keep on working, and that are sustainable and affordable for families living on approximately $2/day.
Story so far
WakaWaka’s story began in 2010, when future founders Maurits Groen and Camille van Gestel ran an active lobby to create a greener South Africa World Cup. Their design for an ultra-efficient LED lamp to replace millions of incandescent lamps won an international competition for emission-reduction ideas. While visiting South Africa, one thing struck them very powerfully was the number of South Africans who lived off the electricity grid - families for whom their wonderful invention was therefore useless.
Partnering up with Intivation - market leader in solar power management - a solution was developed: A sturdy, highly-efficient, sustainable, solar-powered LED lamp, affordable for those living on $2 per day. After months of perfecting the design, the first prototypes of the WakaWaka Light where soaking up sun. In January 2012, WakaWaka 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 NGO’s alike. It swiftly got customers in every single African state and purchase inquiries from 96 countries around the world. Online ratings couldn’t have been more positive and independent research showed that indeed the WakaWaka Light was 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.
Then in 2013, WakaWaka launched a new product model – the WakaWaka Power – that combined the original lamp with the ability to charge phones and other handheld devises while still providing hours of bright, safe light. Funding the production of this ‘most compact power station in the world’ was again done via crowdfunding. Our buy one, give one campaign raised more than $700,000 and at the same time provided 12,000 LED lamps to Haitian families without electricity. Before it even reached the market, we launched a similar donation campaign for conflict-hit Syrians refugees. It has been an exciting journey and one that keeps developing the more we innovate to solve energy poverty in our lifetime worldwide.