Electricity is an integral aspect of life which we tend to take for granted. Today, 1.2 billion people around the world lack access to electricity and hundreds of millions are subject to recurrent blackouts therefore diminishing their productivity and the quality of their lives.
In 2011, Maurits Groen and Camille van Gestel founded the organization WakaWaka to help ameliorate the issue of global electricity deficiency. The duo began this endeavor after entering and winning a competition to green the entire 2010 FIFA World Cup with LED lighting and getting to witness first hand the prevalence of energy poverty in South Africa at the time. Founded in Haarlem, Netherlands, the organization, whose name means “shine bright” in Swahili, develops, produces and markets affordable solar powered lamps and chargers in collaboration with high tech solar company Intivation.
WakaWaka is founded on the belief that business should be used to promote social good. They sell their products for competitive prices and use the subsequent proceeds to provide their products, which use the latest in patented solar technology, to communities that are at the so called “Base of the Pyramid”. The advent of WakaWaka products in the third world have helped to end dependence on kerosene lamps, which are considered cost-ineffective and dangerous (both to the individual and the environment) methods of generating light.
WakaWaka’s first product the WakaWaka Light was launched after a radically successful crowd funding campaign in 2012, and it entered the markets with the sparkling reputation of being the world’s most efficient solar LED lamp. The Light was distributed within every African country and it won the 2012 Accenture Innovation Award.
The WakaWaka Light was soon followed by the WakaWaka Power, a new model of the lamp which both providing light and also served as a charging facility for electronics such as cellphones. The Power model revolutionized WakaWaka’s endeavor as it not only provided light, but it also fostered connectivity within communities.
WakaWaka characterizes access to local, sustainable energy as a fundamental human right. Through their products they have been able to provide affordable and safe electricity to individuals who were previously energy poor, helping them to increase their human capital and promote human development. Today, WakaWaka’s products are being used in over 100 countries. They have transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands across the globe, whether it be by empowering them to perform everyday activities, or by helping to save their lives during crises (such as the ongoing conflict in Syria and the recent Ebola outbreak) and have been recognized for their role in helping to close the exiting global energy gap.