Climate finance strategy development for solar lighting company WakaWaka

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WakaWaka (‘Shine Bright’ in Swahili) develops, manufactures and markets high-tech, low-cost solar-powered lamps and chargers. The social enterprise is active in a number of developing countries, marketing its products to households that use kerosene or other non-renewable sources of lighting in predominantly rural areas. WakaWaka’s Buy-One-Gift-One business model means that for every product sold in the West, WakaWaka donates one light to affiliated humanitarian aid partners. Partners in turn distribute these units for free to refugees and displaced persons in affected areas, including countries like Syria, Haiti, and most recently Nepal. WakaWaka has also set up a Pay-as-You-Go solar lighting scheme in Rwanda, making this technology accessible to low-income users.

Replacing kerosene lamps with off-grid solar-powered products saves money, increases safety, allows children to do their homework and increases income-generating capacity for families as a whole. This switch also reduces greenhouse gas emissions, which can be monetized through international carbon markets.

According to the International Energy Agency, over 1.3 billion people live without access to electricity. This represents over 20% of the global population.

Climate Focus is assisting WakaWaka in defining its carbon asset development strategy. This starts with a financial assessment of its commercial and Buy-One-Gift-One business models and analysis of how carbon finance can fit into the picture. Given WakaWaka’s international scope of operations, various baseline conditions apply, resulting in different emission reduction potentials for a lamp depending on the region. Furthermore, as the two business models differ in funding requirements and scale, alternative carbon asset development strategies are explored, targeting both the compliance and voluntary market.