In this generation it is hard to believe that there are places in Africa that don’t have electricity yet. One young man who largely lived without electricity did something about it and began a chain reaction that met the needs of others like him and created jobs while at it. This is the story of Evans Wadongo and his solar-powered Lanterns.
THE JOURNEY TO SOLAR-POWERED LANTERNS
Wadongo was born in the Western part of Kenya where he attended Manyoje and Bisunu primary schools. His home was about 10 kilometres away and he walked the distance to school on a daily basis. His parents were both teachers, his home and school lacked electricity, but he didn’t allow that stop him as he was listed among the top 100 best students in Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examination in 2002.
Evans Wadongo attended Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Kenya. He studied Electronic and Computer Engineering.
As a little boy growing up, Wadongo had to read and prepare for exams and carry out his assignments using light of kerosene or firewood. The smoke emitted combined with the bad light produced made it difficult for him to complete his assignments most times and also exasperated his eyes. This steered him to design and produce a portable solar-powered lantern at the age of 19. He named the lamp “MwangaBora”, meaning “Good light” in Swahili.
Designing and the solar lamp led to a production activity that has touched the lives of people in Nairobi by creating manufacturing jobs and giving them opportunities to earn as much as $110 weekly, more than the Kenyan minimum wage.
Evans was able to distribute the lamps to villages in Kenya in 2006 with assistance from The non-profit Sustainable Development for All. He became executive director of the organization three years later. Each solar-powered lantern cost about $25 and over 50,000 MwangaBora lamps have been distributed to people in Kenya and Malawi and beyond.
The production and distribution were funded by public donations from individuals, corporations and foundations.
INVESTMENTS AND HONOURS
Evans Wadongo is Co-Founder and Chief Strategy officer of GreenWize energy ltd, Co-Founder and Advisor of Ujuzikilimo, Chairman of Watson Ventures Ltd, and Founder, Sustainable Development for All Kenya. He was named among 35 top Global innovators under 35 in 2013 and was also a finalist for Humanitarian Hero Award and Inaugural Innovation Prize for Africa. Evans was selected among thousands of nominations globally for CNN Top Ten Hero 2010 and many others.
He is passionate about creating social, economic, and political change especially for the poor and needy in the African society. He is a hero to many people, as he became their light, speaking metaphorically.