INSPIRED IMPACT is an ongoing blog series that gives voice to social entrepreneurs and leaders of mission-driven organizations who are making an impact in their communities and industries.

 



 

Zane WagenerZane Wagener is the Executive Director of Elephant Energy. Follow them on Facebook and learn more at elephantenergy.org.

 

WHAT DO YOU DO?
Elephant Energy enables individuals to move themselves out of energy poverty. We do this by providing access to renewable energy technologies in rural communities in Southern Africa.

 

WHY DO YOU DO IT?
Worldwide more than 1.1 billion people lack access to basic energy services. This leads to significant challenges around health, productivity, education and poverty. Our mission is to use the power of entrepreneurship to solve these energy problems in rural Africa. We recruit and train individuals within rural, off-grid communities to sell these technologies, earning an income, while dramatically improving the lives of individuals in rural Africa.

 

WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
Over the last nine years Elephant Energy has enabled 83,000+ people to adopt sustainable, clean energy solutions, saving them time and money while improving their health and quality of life. Households report a 15% increase in savings after the purchase of an Elephant Energy product. We have enabled the start-up of 150 solar businesses, providing needed income in a country with a more than 35% unemployment rate.
We have also granted more than 6,000 students access to light through our light library program, thus dramatically improving attendance and educational outcomes.

 

WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO MAKE THIS IMPACT?
It is the individuals who we support that inspire me to do this work. Many of our sales agents were once customers whose lives were transformed by the purchase of a simple solar light. They wanted to then spread that impact to the far reaches of their community. They, as well as our 100% African on-the-ground staff, are the true heart of our organization, working each day towards making their communities and their country safer, cleaner and more productive.

 

WHAT’S YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE ORGANIZATION AND THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
Our goal is to spread access to these technologies across the far reaches of rural Southern Africa so that each individual is able to breath safe clean air, while simultaneously enabling them to increase productivity and household savings. I hope that this change can be led by members of the community, thus increasing the sustainability and impact that is possible from a simple solar light. We began with Namibia, the most sparsely populated country in Africa, and the goal is to take those lessons learned to spread our impact to each individual who we can. These off-grid communities offer the opportunity to leap-frog the traditional grid, thus electrifying nations, without ever emitting a green house gas. The time is not to electrify these communities, but it can be done sustainably.

 

WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU NEED TO MAKE THOSE DREAMS COME TRUE?
As we expand our impact, we need people to invest in our future. We need people who share our passion for renewable energy, entrepreneurialism, poverty reduction and gender equality to join us in our fight to eliminate energy poverty.

 

WHAT IS (OR HAS BEEN) YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE?
One of our biggest challenges has been effectively communicating the challenges faced by off-grid households to individuals in the United States. If you are accustomed the light, energy, and clean air, then it is hard to fathom that light is far more than just light. We are not just a renewable energy organization, but one that impacts health, gender, education and poverty.

 

WHAT WORDS OF ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER LEADERS LOOKING TO MAKE AN IMPACT?
Do not go it alone. Find a team. For me, surrounding myself with a team that I love, that I trust and can invest in and build has been what has made all the difference. You will make it so much farther if you find others who share your passion and want to move your dreams for your organization forward.

 

HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
Firstly, you can learn what we do. Does Elephant Energy speak to you? If so, come to our events, donate through our website, sign up for our newsletter or reach out for more information.

 


Orapin Marketing + Public Relations is an award-winning communications agency that generates awareness, engagement, and, ultimately, support for mission-driven organizations. We amplify their voice and reach so they can increase their impact. If you would like to be featured on INSPIRED IMPACT, reach out to hello@orapinmarketing.com.