One of the people I was most honored to meet during my cleantech tour of the Netherlands was Maurits Groen, cofounder and CEO of WakaWaka. WakaWaka, in just a few short years in existence, has had a tremendous impact on over 1 million people across the world, bringing them electricity and light via small-scale solar power systems.
Interestingly, the idea for the company stemmed from a trip to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup, where Maurits and cofounder Camille van Gestel were struck by the lack of electricity access and safe lighting in the region.
Our interview with Maurits covered these initial WakaWaka seeds, how the company was initially funded (hint: crowdfunding/crowdinvesting), and some of the great impacts the company had had at the time of our interview.
As I’ve heard many times from people involved with off-grid solar and solar microgrids in developing countries, one of touching and critical areas of life where solar-powered lighting can have a huge impact is with the birthing process. People in places without electricity typically use kerosene lighting to help deliver babies, which isn’t very safe. Maurits mentioned just one community in the Philippines that WakaWaka had helped that had used their products to deliver nearly 1,000 babies. Imagine that impact repeated many times over.
Maurits also mentioned midwives who had to deliver babies using the light from their cell phones, with their cell phones held in their mouths, unable to communicate with the mothers during that time. Again, quantifying the benefits of WakaWaka (or other solar-powered battery+lighting systems) in one such case is impossible, let alone thousands and thousands.
Check out the full interview at the top if you haven’t yet.
Again, thanks to Remco van der Horst, COO of renewable energy crowdinvesting company Duurzaaminvesteren and founder of consultancy Greenproc, for arranging this interview for me.
Images via WakaWaka
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