Light Up Malawi Getting “Acquired” by buildOn

More and more non-profits are merging, and getting acquired and this is a practice I hope to see more of as common sense dictates – the best way of delivering change is not always to have a thousand voices yelling, but one very strong voice leading the pack. I was definitely excited when an opportunity came to practice this common sense came to the NGO I founded a few years ago.

As many of you know, my passion project Light Up Malawi has been run by Ryan Renner for the past several months as I took a job at the State Department and then at the Broadcasting Board of Governors to be their new co-director of Innovation. As a federal contractor, I could not hold any executive function with any non-profit organization, so I stepped down to an advisory role. While LUM was in good hands with Ryan – we also realized that the political environment in Malawi was not ideal. For a young organization like ours could thrive, or even survive, we needed entirely different circumstances, or years of experience. Both of which we did not have.

After a remarkably simple conversation with our first pilot partners, buildOn we were able to transfer the funds raised so far on Global Giving (the most amazing website for non-profit fundraising ever!) and put them into a community education program around clean energy. We think its a win-win situation. Thanks to everyone who supported us in the early days and fans through out. Thank you for believing that a few people can make a difference in the world, because we did! More details on the change here:

http://lightupmalawi.org/

Free Energy for Everyone! Light Up Malawi’s First Pilot:

Thanks to an amazing partnership with BuildON and Energy For Opportunity we had a very successful first pilot on our renewable education tract.
Over a three day workshop we taught 17 teachers from 4 different communities in the Kasungu District how to do basic electrical, and basic solar maintenance, and a solar installation. Simon Willans of EFO led the instruction. The learnings were amazing: Malawians are hungry for knowledge – we had full attendance, attention and more people interested every day. Watching the teachers create a basic circuit for the first time was fantastic. Their understanding spread from the classroom to the installation. We left tools for each student and a professional solar instruction manual for each community and also placed this manual in the library of the Wimbe School. Every one of the teachers is committed to taking this knowledge to all of their communities, and spreading the instruction into all of BuildOn’s Community Education Programs.

The panel we installed will power the lighting for two classrooms and even a laptop. Stand by as we hear feedback from the community on how one panel is changing their lives and helping them in small and large ways.


We also placed some solar mobile charging stations and dynamo lanterns for clinics in the Chiradzulu District, and Thyolo District and gave a donation to Goods for Good CBO in Luzi and met with several ministers to begin talks about Malawi’s energy policy and tariff reduction on renewable energy products. While in Kenya we attended the Lighting Africa conference where we met with key stakeholders working in renewable energy in Africa.
All in all, a very productive time in Malawi.

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