Greetings from Dubai!
WakaWaka was thrilled to have our co-founder, Camille van Gestel, and CEO, Jehmu Greene, representing us at the 4th International Off-Grid Lighting’s week-long conference. Launched on October 26 to chart the route to improved energy access, a full complement of key industry players and stakeholders came together to engage in in-depth (and sometimes heated) conversations about a broad range of important issues, such as pay-as-you-go solar, data collection, trust-building, and the emergence of off-grid accessories and line extensions, among others.
“We have come a hell of a long way in three years!” Declared Charlie Miller, SolarAid’s Head of Policy and Programme Funding.
“The first measure of impact must be product quality,” observed WakaWaka CEO, Jehmu Greene.
“We’re all agents of light: everyone involved in giving and receiving off-grid products,” said Jehmu in her address to conference attendees. Representing WakaWaka on two panels related to social impact metrics and humanitarian aid, Jehmu spoke at length about our unique Share the Sun model and the important lessons we have learned in our work in off-grid communities. She noted that WakaWaka donates without reservation in crisis situations where access to light and power can mean the difference between life and death for those impacted. But in stable but impoverished situations, we encourage alternatives to donating — such as subsidized pricing or the use of community development incentives — so as to avoid the risk of spoiling markets, reducing the perceived value of products or creating community tensions.
And, of course, it all begins with quality. Jehmu observed that when it comes to off-grid solar lighting, the first measure of impact must be product quality.
There were many important takeaways from the conference: We must continue to invest in increasing global awareness of energy poverty and how market-based solutions can tackle this pressing challenge. We must build trust and strong direct relationships with our customers. Our brands must be aspirational. And we must excel at customer service.
It is often said that a rising tide lifts all boats and we are immensely proud of WakaWaka’s leadership in helping to build awareness around the issue of energy poverty and the important contributions our company has made in the rapidly growing off-grid solar lighting and services industry.