Sustainable Development For All

Sustainable Development For All: Turning Kerosene into Honey

Nairobi, KenyaKenya
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$250,000 - $500,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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

Women make up majority of the rural poor and do not have access to finance and skills to set up businesses. SDFA uses MwangaBora lamp as a tool to enable rural women make savings from funds no longer needed for kerosene, and use the savings to set up micro-businesses and live a decent life.

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

What if we could turn the dirty kerosene into sustainable businesses for women?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Nearly half of the country's 43 million people live below the poverty line and majority of these are women. 76 per cent of the extreme poor live in rural areas and rural women do not have access to skills, financial and other resources to contribute to decreasing world hunger and poverty. Also, nearly 70% of Kenya does not have electricity and rely on expensive kerosene for lighting, which takes nearly 40% of their daily income.

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

The project involves training youth who dropped out of school to make locally designed Mwangabora solar lamps, distributing the lamps to rural women through their own community groups, training the women on entrepreneurship and life skills, helping the women to save the funds they would have otherwise spent on kerosene, and then helping them to set up economic ventures using the savings as seed capital. The women eventually use the economic ventures as collateral to access further financing to expand their ventures.


Outstanding Social Entreprenuer in Africa, CNN Hero, Pan Commonwealth Youth award for development
Impact: How does it Work

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

Mama Nancy was a house wife in rural Malava. Her eldest son, Kevin was idle since the family could not afford high school fees. Our organization recruited Kevin to our youth resource center where we trained him to make Mwangabora lamps, and he also started using the center to make farm tools. he was now independent. The lamps made were given to Nancy and other members of her group. They saved money they were initially using for kerosene and started bee keeping business. Using profits they made, they started baking business. When I asked Nancy what had changed after 2 year, she said- her marriage was happier- because her husband was staying in the house more to eat cake and tea, and she didn't ask him for money all the time.

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

• In 5 years, we have provided over 1200 youth with informal education with vocational and business training, they have made over 60,000 Mwangabora solar lamps benefiting 60,000 households, and ensuring over 200,000 children have clean energy for lighting. • In the last 5 years, thousands of women we have trained have set up over 300 businesses from savings made for not using kerosene. • In the last 5 years, we have helped eliminate over 2.5 metric tones of carbon dioxide from the environment by eliminating the use of kerosene. • Improved performance in school by children due to the solar lamps, which leads to increased retention in school that that reduces early marriages, reduced female genital mutilation, and improved health, among other benefits. By 2020, we project to have 1000 small and micro enterprises set up by women groups across 5 countries.

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

Full impact in 5 years is : Over 700,000 beneficiaries in at least 5 countries in Africa- this will include over 100,000 women who are equipped with business skills and will create 1000 businesses, over 600,000 children who use the Mwangabora solar lamps for study, and over 10,000 youth who initially were unemployed, been trained in both vocational and business skills and are able to make renewable energy products. We anticipate to achieve this through creating partnerships at both knowledge, funding and implementing levels.

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

-Ensuring women groups will pay for more solar lamps after setting up economic ventures. -Leveraging on scale to negotiate with financial institutions, government agencies to reduce requirements for group loans offered to the women groups in our program. -We are also selling Mwangabora lamps at a premium through exhibitions. -Setting up youth centers that are financially independent to make Mwangabora.

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

Micro finance institutions such as Kenya Women Trust Fund, and governmental organizations such as Women Enterprise Fund that offer micro loans to women. However, most require security and considering most rural women do not own property, they have to seek consent from their husbands. Also, since most of the women do not have required skills to create viable businesses, they end up misusing the funds for household needs and end up loosing their assets. Our approach ensures the women raise their own capital through savings and and are able to grow the business with the skills we provide.

Founding Story

The ‘Use Solar, Save Lives’ program was founded in 2004 and later SDFA was founded in 2006. The founder's experience growing up in a rural home in western Kenya, where he studied using tin kerosene lanterns, called ‘Koroboi’; was his driving force and he used part of his student loan to set up the program. The program was later modified in 2010 after feedback from women, who simply felt lamps only were not the solution as they were still poor with no money, and they wanted to have their own income. Sop the program now aims to help communities set up economic ventures from savings on kerosene- hence 'Turning kerosene into honey'


Key team members are: Gilbert Mwombe - Program Director - Bachelor of Education- Full time - He oversees implementation of all projects, ensures effective monitoring and evaluation and ensures the accountant prepares proper records of expenditures within the organization. Khatuchi Khasandi - Program Officer - Bachelor in Community Development - Full Time. - Works under the Program Director and coordinate the work of volunteers in each community, and coordinates training and monitoring exercises. In the coming 3 months, we are setting up an advisory board with members with many years of experience in sectors such as communication, financial management, development, entrepreneurship among others.
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

Through Opportunity desk

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

Project Assistant

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]

No Poverty, Gender Equality, Affordable and Clean Energy, Decent Work and Economic Growth.

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

The founder, Evans Wadongo has been a social entrepreneur for several years- since he was 19 years old. Evans has participated in many international business, policy and leadership conferences and symposiums such as Africa Global Business Forum, Africa Development Forum, Global Entrepreneurship Summit, among others; where he has interacted with experienced business and government leaders. Evans has also attended various training with Annenberg Foundation, Aspen Institute, among others. he is also currently enrolled in Masters program in Development Management at UK's Open University.

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

We are working with Friedman Benda, a New York based gallery to expand the sell of limited edition of Mwangabora lamps in exhibitions in various cities to raise more funds. We are putting together an advisory board that will help provide further advice and mentorship to our management team. We are working with London school of Economics graduate students to develop a comprehensive strategy for scaling and replication in other countries in Africa.