Evans Wadongo (born 11 March 1986) is a Kenyan engineer, the Co-Founder of GreenWize Energy Ltd, the Executive Director and Founder of SDFA-Kenya, and one of CNN’s top ten heroes of 2010. He is a graduate in Electronic and Computer Engineering from the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Kenya. Evans was born in the Western part of Kenya. Both his father and mother are teachers. He attended Manyonje and Bisunu Primary Schools, rural primary schools, where he walked over 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) daily to reach the school. His home and school had no electricity, but he braved the odds to join Kakamega High School, where he managed to graduate with top marks, and was listed among the top 100 best students in Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examinations of 2002. He later joined Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology and graduated in July 2009 with a BSc (honors) in Electronics and Computer Engineering.
How he started
As a student at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, he happened to see holiday lights made from LEDs and thought about what it would take to bring LEDs to small villages for general lighting. After taking a leadership training course from a nonprofit group, he designed a manufacturing system for portable LED lamps that could be recharged by sunlight. While many such lamps are already for sale commercially—and are increasingly making their way into villages in poor countries—Wadongo decided that his lanterns would be made in local workshops with scrap metal and off-the-shelf photovoltaic panels, batteries, and LEDs.
Some of the lamps are completed in the kitchen of a rented house in Nairobi. Three LED elements are pushed through a cardboard tube so they stand up inside the lantern’s glass shade. The LED elements, photovoltaic panel, and batteries are sourced from major electronics companies. Overall, the devices are rugged; the steel in the housing of the lantern is a heavy gauge. If a housing breaks, it can be serviced locally—and the electronic parts are easily swapped out.
Each lamp is stamped “Mwanga Bora,” which means “Good Light” in Swahili.
In recognition of his work in Kenya, Evans has received numerous awards and publicity from the international community over the past few years.
Wadongo was voted one of CNN’s top ten heroes of 2010.
On 30 March 2011, Wadongo was named one of three recipients of the inaugural Mikhail Gorbachev Awards for “The Man Who Changed the World.” His fellow inaugural recipients of this award were Sir Tim Berners Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web and Ted Turner, media mogul and founder of CNN. The ceremony, held in London, also celebrated Gorbachev’s 80th birthday.
Evans won the Outstanding Social Entrepreneur in Africa at the Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship held in Mauritius in 2013.
Evans was named Social Entrepreneur of the Year by the Schwab Foundation for 2011. The awards ceremony was held in Cape Town, South Africa, during the World Economic Forum for Africa. He was also among “20 Men Who Will Shape the Next 20 Years” by UK’s Esquire magazine in 2011, and an Unreasonable Institute Fellow in 2011.
SDFA-Kenya is also a SEED award winner for 2011.
Evans was a finalist at the inaugural Innovation Prize for Africa held in Addis Ababa in 2012. He also received the African International Achievers Award in 2012.
Evans Wadongo and his story have been featured on CNN, BBC, AFP, The New Yorker, China Central Television, Reuters, France 24, Discovery Channel, MBC South Korea, Deutsche Welle, German Radio, Russian State TV, Huffington Post among other international media channels. Locally in Kenya, Evans has been featured on KTN TV, K24 TV, NTV, KBC TV, Citizen TV, KISS FM Radio, Radio Jambo, Capital FM, Nation Newspaper, Standard Newspaper, The Star newspaper, The People newspaper, Parents Magazine, and Management Magazine.
Evans was named one of four torchbearers to represent Kenya during the 2012 London Olympics Torch Relay.
Evans has been a speaker in schools, colleges and international conferences in many countries in Europe, Americas, Middle East, and Africa, including the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, African Development Forum, Clinton Global Initiative-University, African Union Youth Forum, Education Without Borders, LSE Africa Summit,among others.
In August 2013, Evans was named by The Diplomatic Courier as a Top 99 under 33 Shaper, and on a list by MIT Technology Review of the Top 35 Innovators Under 35.
Credit: Wikipedia.com and technologyreview.com