LAGAZEL: Lighting everywhere

Saint-Galmier, FranceBurkina Faso
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
$500,000 - $1 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

LAGAZEL is the first start-up producing solar lanterns in Africa in order to bring affordable and high-quality solutions to 650 million African people who do not have access to grid. As far 2020, LAGAZEL expects 1 million solar lamps sold.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if every people could access a sustainable and quality light and energy source through solar equipments made locally ?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

In Africa, 650 million people do not have access to electricity, which represents 70 % of global population, and 85 % of rural population. People use costly oils lamps or torches for lighting, which pose numerous health, ecological and financial problems. Access rate to grid slowly evolved during the past few years, and will hardly cover growing energy needs. In 2030, 700 million people will have no access to electricity.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

LAGAZEL is the first start-up producing solar lanterns in Africa, in production workshops closed to final customers, in order to bring accessible solutions to 650 million African people who do not have access to grid. From € 15 to 30, LAGAZEL solar lanterns are affordable and offer the best quality in the market : a metallic hull unbreakable, 2-year guarantee, 25-hours autonomy. Contrary to most players in photovoltaic sectors, LAGAZEL will contribute to create jobs locally in production workshops while offering a high-quality after-sale service to customers.


Label Observeur du Design 2016
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Abdou is living in Bama, a small village in Burkina Faso. He was very lucky his father payed for him to train as a tailor. As first, he sewed children's clothes by hand. 3 years later, he was able to buy his first sewing machine. But in the village, the sun sets early, and due to no electricity, work has to stop early every evening. Therefore, he can not always deliver his orders on time, and has to refuse some orders… Abdou's live could change if he gains access to LAGAZEL solar lamp. Thanks to free and unlimited solar energy, Abdou would be able to work later in the evening and therefore could accept more orders and increase his income. He would even save money by using LAGAZEL solar lamp to charge his phone.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

As far 2020, LAGAZEL expects 10 active production workshops in Western and Eastern Africa, and 1 million solar lamps sold. The impact will be threefold: - Environmental (640,000 tones of CO2 emissions saved by 2020): solar lamps do not release greenhouse gases and rechargeable batteries limit waste. LAGAZEL option to produce locally reduces carbon footprint of the all value chain and enables to collect end-of-life products. - Social: 6 million people’s living conditions are improved. They have access to a free and unlimited clean energy for lighting. They can save money on buying batteries or charging mobile phones. Access to lighting and energy will contribute to develop small businesses, encourage education and improve conditions in health center. - Economics: 200 jobs are created in production workshops by 2020. Stakeholders of the value chain are able to increase their revenues

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

In December 2015, LAGAZEL will launch a first pilot production of 1000 solar lamps in Burkina Faso, in partnership with the solar company CB Energie. This production will be used to get Lighting Africa accreditation, and develop sales network. LAGAZEL will then develop a «Lagazel box» (solar products facility in a box) and, through a franchise model, will develop a network of workshops producing LAGAZEL approved solar lanterns in Africa. Each one will have a production capacity of 200 000 lamps/year. The expansion will be facilitated by partnering with national governments and social investor

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

LAGAZEL plans to sell 1 million lamps by 2020. From 2016 to 2018, LAGAZEL will generate €2,5 million, 3,5 million and 5,2 millions revenues. The company will reach financial sustainability in 2018 with a profit of € 290 000. To reach this goal, LAGAZEL will partner with development programs and call for various financing sources (grants, social investments, debt) to make the most of solar value chain opportunities.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

90% of African families use poor-quality and harmful equipments for lighting. Solar equipments are imported from Asia and their quality is often uncertain. Some products abiding by the Lighting Africa certification appeared in the market 2013, but distributors face difficulties in importing the products and implementing after-sale services. As of today, there is no solar equipments assembled or produced in West Africa. Therefore, LAGAZEL will be the first in the market to offer high quality products, produced locally with tough quality control and efficient after-sale service.

Founding Story

In 2000, Arnaud is studying engineering: he knocks up LED and batteries to create his first solar lanterns. In 2004, shocked by the darkness of the night in Burkina Faso, he decides to create the country’s first company specialized in solar energy. 10 years later, CB Energie has produced 30 000 solar lamps but the handmade business is now in competition with Asian solar products. Maxence is Arnaud’s brother. He is Director of the familial industrial company CHABANNE. In 2014, upon a construction industry fair in Morocco, he realizes people interest for solar products. During the night, Maxence calls his brother : why not launching an industrializing solar lamps' local production ?


Arnaud is full time manager. Maxence is board member (as CEO of Chabanne which holds 50 of shares). The team also includes: - a full time commercial and marketing manager with 5 year experience in affordable energy in Burkina Faso. - a part-time consultant with 10 years experience in social innovation ventures, dedicated to strategy and public relations. - a part-time research engineer. On the field, in Dedougou, LAGAZEL works with the CB Energie workshop and staff.
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

Newsletter Ashoka

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:


Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

Affordable and Clean Energy, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Climate Action.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

In 2004, Arnaud created the first company in Burkina Faso specialized in solar energy, CB Energie. Today, the company employs 20 people, and has already produced 30 000 solar lamps for African market. Therefore, Arnaud has a strong knowledge of Africa solar market, and has experience in managing local team and organizing production workshop. In 2008, he obtained the Lighting Africa prize for his work to improve access to energy in Africa.
Maxence is entrepreneur. He is Director of the familial company CHABANNE, which has been the specialist of metal wire transformation for 3 generations. He has strong knowledge in implementing industrial processes.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

Novam Design
Dominique Chabanne, former CEO of Chabanne
Abdoulaye Sana, staff member CB Energie
Antoine Horellou, CEO of, former Ashoka staff member

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