The inspiring story of Evans Wadongo: The Kenyan who designed the first-ever African-designed solar lamp

Evans Wadongo is the Co-Founder and CEO of GreenWize Energy Ltd., Kenya. Evans Wadongo made headlines at the age of 19 when he designed the first-ever African-designed solar lamp made from recycled materials.

Wadongo grew up in a mud house, he trekked 10 miles every day to school, and he suffered an eye problem due to the lack of electricity in his community. But even with all these challenges, Evans Wadongo has written his name in gold in the hearts of many people in the world. He grew up in rural Kenya and made his mark early on by developing a solar lamp that could be simply constructed out of mostly recyclable materials. In his first year of college, he spent a portion of his student loan to create more lights, eventually transforming the idea into Sustainable Development for All, a social venture that brings solar power and micro-enterprise development to rural communities, benefiting over 200,000 people.

Evans Wadongo

The inspiration behind this was that Evans grew up in a community where there was no electricity. And for this reason, life seems hard to live for the people in his village. Because of the lack of electricity, back then as a kid, the little Wadongo used to compete with his siblings for the only kerosene lantern in the house to ensure that he did his homework. This action resulted in an eye problem for Evans over time because of the emission of smoke from the kerosene lantern.

Having this experience, Wadongo knew that he must do something and surely he did. Because he invented the first African solar lantern. The Invention of this solar-powered lantern has made a great impact in many homes across the country of Kenya. This invention became so popular that Wadongo received many recognitions and awards both locally and internationally.

The story of Evans is another reminder for us that, for every problem we encounter in life, there is always at least a seed of equivalent greatness, it’s just left for us to discover the seed, nurture it and make it grow to a mighty and fruitful tree.

Wadongo, who has a BSc. (Honors) in Electronic and Computer Engineering and an MSc. in Development Management. in electronic and computer engineering, was recognized as one of CNN’s “Top Ten Heroes” in 2010 and was an Olympic torch bearer for the 2012 London Olympics. He is also the founder of Fail-2 Bounce, a new platform that enables people, especially youth, to share experiences on ideas that have been unsuccessful through social media and gatherings.

Wadongo was named among Africa’s “30 under 30” best young entrepreneurs by Forbes, listed among the top 35 innovators under 35 by MIT Technology Review, and named among 20 men who will shape the next 20 years by UK’s Esquire magazine.  He has been covered by major media outlets around the world, has written several articles internationally and spoken at leading institutions and events around the world.

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