Evans Wadongo

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Evans Wadongo YoungStarsFoundation.org
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Evans Wadongo is a hero to his people in Nairobi, Kenya. He serves as their light—literally and figuratively. In this age of information technology, it’s hard to believe that some still live without electricity. For Evans who grew up without that privilege, kerosene lamps became his lifeline. When he’s old enough to understand kerosene’s adverse effect, this promising engineer created what is now called “Good Light” or MwangaBora. More than lighting up a house, Evans lit up dreams of kids and parents through his Use Solar, Save Lives initiative made possible by Sustainable Development for All-Kenya.


Why Evans Wadongo is Extraordinary

Evans Wadongo was 19 when he developed the first African-designed and -produced solar lamp. He could have earned millions had he decided to patent and commercialize it. But Evans knows better. There’s a lot more to life than money. Now, he’s regarded by the world as a hero. One of CNN’s Top Ten Heroes, Evans leads Sustainable Development for All-Kenya and is one of MIT Technology Review's Top 35 Innovators Under 35. The Schwab Foundation named him Social Entrepreneur of the Year, while Esquire magazine has him in their list of "20 Men Who Will Shape the Next 20 Years."

Evans’ MwangaBora

Evans called his solar-powered lamps MwangaBora, which means “good light” when translated from Swahili. His hometown in Nairobi, Kenya has no electricity so he grew up using kerosene lamps to study. This led to an eye problem due to the toxic fumes that kerosene emits. But that’s a slight aberration compared to others who did not have the resources to buy kerosene every day. Kids his age had to give up their dreams of ever completing school just because their parents have no means of buying kerosene for the kids to study come night time.

The abject poverty was exacerbated by kids getting disillusioned and giving up hope. While others have a shortage of hope, Evans only had that to hold on to. He endured walking 20 kilometers to and from school in the hope of bettering their lives. Fortunately, he did not have to wait until he’s done with college before he discovered a way to help his people. All they need is light. A promising engineer, Evans went to work and created the first lamp in Africa powered by the sun. No need to buy kerosene. No harmful side effects. No danger of causing deadly fire. No emission to worsen pollution.

Most of all, no gimmicks.

Evans Lights up Lives with Use Solar, Save Lives

Soon, he was leading Sustainable Development for All-Kenya. They became the recipient of the SEED award in 2011. The Use Solar, Save Lives partnered with women groups to help the people use the money they save by not using kerosene as funding for livelihood projects. Because of this innovative approach, SDfA’s Use Solar, Save Lives became successful not only in giving the people the means to keep living after the sun has set but also enabled the kids to keep studying at night.

Evans had no intention of keeping MwangaBora in Kenya. He travelled to Malawi on several occasions to launch @sdfakenya partnership with Jacaranda Foundation to train orphans in making solar lamps. They also fashioned solar lamps in a way that’s easy to replicate so that the youth could easily produce their own lamps and make a living out of it. So we understand why Forbes named him among '30 under 30'-Africa's best young entrepreneurs and why he became a finalist for the Humanitarian Hero Award.

Evans also received the Pan Commonwealth Youth Award and the African International Achievers Award. He now goes from one country to another, inspiring people, young and old, never to lose hope no matter how bleak the future looks. Who knows, you could be the light in other people’s lives.

Top Reasons why Evans Wadongo is Extraordinary

  1. Evans developed the first African-designed and African-produced solar lamp available when he was only 19 years old.
  2. MwangaBora or good light is Evans way of improving the lives of her fellow Kenyans who have no access to electricity.
  3. He endured walking 20 kilometers to and from school just to complete his high school studies. He was among the Top 100 high school students of Kenya.
  4. He completed his BSc in Electronics and Computer Engineering with honors.
  5. He currently chairs Sustainable Development for All-Kenya and heads Use Solar, Save Lives project.
  6. He founded Just One Lamp in the hope of touching and improving the lives of 1 million Africans by 2018.
  7. He was named among '30 under 30'-Africa's best young entrepreneurs by Forbes, Top 35 Innovators Under 35 by MIT Technology Review, 20 Men Who Will Shape the Next 20 Years by Esquire magazine, Social Entrepreneur of the Year by the Schwab Foundation, and Mikhail Gorbachev Awards for "The Man Who Changed the World."
  8. Sustainable Development for All-Kenya won the SEED Award under his leadership.
  9. They have distributed 32,000 lamps so far.
  10. He is one of CNN's Top 10 Heroes and was a finalist for Humanitarian Hero Award and the inaugural Innovation Prize for Africa.

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