Dit blog is in het Engels omdat het de voertaal is van TEDx. Ik maak er dus geen gewoonte van . Dit blog verschijnt zo snel mogelijk ook op de site van TEDxHaarlem.
‘What would you do if you had 3 hours less, every single day, for the rest of your lives?’ Camille van Gestel opens his speech with this question and asks us to close our eyes and imagine this. Would we be working less hours? Would we be able to make enough money to support our family?
Of course some people secretly cheat anyway, so he made us feel how it feels after the sun goes down without having electricity. He turns off the lights in the room.
That’s how a lot of people in rural areas feel everyday. Energy-poverty is common for many people. The lack of daylight hours and (evening)light is not the only problem that people encounter: 16000 people per day experience accidents like burns, thanks to the smelly, toxic and pollutive kerosine lamps they use to have some light. That for them is the only way to be able to do, for example, their (school)homework or to cook. But having that light, is spending 25% of their income on light. Dangerous light. Not everyone is willing to spend that amount of money on having light…
It’s when hearing this story, Camille decided to do something about it.
Like many good ideas and successful products, it all started in a bar in Hong Kong, when a Dutch friend from a solar company told him about a rudimentary version of what we now know as the Waka-Waka solar light. Powered by sunlight and stuck on a bottle, it would deliver evenings full of social life in (energy poor) areas. Camille was ecstatic, because he immediately saw the possibilities or bringing light in those areas. If just one generation of studentx would be able to finish their homework and pass their exams because they have light now! Without good knowledge of the business, the same night he decided, on the phone, with his businesspartner Maurits Groen to start a solar company. The Waka-Waka-project was born. But they wanted to do things differently so they asked a designer to design ‘the iPhone amongst solar lights’.
Well, actually not just yet, because they needed fundings to further develop and produce the Waka-Waka-light. They did not want shareholders to make the decisions. Therefore they successfully promoted the project on Kickstarter (two times), a crowdfunding platform. The reactions were unanimously positive.
They never anticipated the lamp would be such a success in the west – especially campers were very happy with the lamp.
Inspired by former president Clinton the next step was donating a Waka-Waka light 1.0 (with no USB-charging possibilities, just the solar powered light) to Haiti with every Waka-Waka light ordered in the west. And knowing that at that point 7000 pieces were sold, they helped over 60.000 people who were still living in shelters without electricity after the earthquake of 2010.y
In Siria they are spreading the light now, to the refugees there.
A lot of people, like in Nigeria, now have 3 hours extra per day because they have light now. They study, they cook, they are reading. Their future has come with the light. Thanks to the Waka-Waka-light. It’s hardly a commercial message; it’s an inspiring story.