Global Shapers are young leaders who want to develop their leadership potential towards serving society. They work together in teams to improve their communities. This special series highlights the winners of Coca-Cola’s Shaping a Better Future Grant Challenge for the Global Shapers Community. This challenge rewards taking action, leading positive change and using innovative approaches to tackle serious social issues.

The Coca-Cola Company is a founding partner of this World Economic Forum Community.  We think the Shapers are pretty awesome and hope you enjoy seeing the change they are starting in their own backyards.

Replacing kerosene lighting with solar power is a process with the potential of achieving more than just a cleaner environment. For thousands of young students, it means securing access to an adequate education and a better future. 

But what is the connection between a simple lamp, a positive environmental impact and access to education in developing countries? 

In Kenya, the majority of currently available lamps are lit on kerosene, an energy source that presents significant drawbacks: it is highly polluting and considerably expensive. In fact, most Kenyan families can barely afford kerosene-powered lanterns. It is estimated that in emerging countries energy bills amount for up to 40% of household expenses and that families try to save up as much as possible by keeping the use of kerosene lamps to a minimum, without realizing how this hampers their children's access to education. 

Global Shapers Nairobi Hub

By unlocking resources that are currently spent on fossil fuels, Powering Education aims to support the diffusion of clean energy and innovative technologies as key enablers for education and access to culture. This project will build a compelling story about the strong connection between clean energy diffusion and education for all, two core drivers of economic and social development.

Powering Education foresees the installation of 350 solar lamps in 12 schools located in off-grid rural communities in Kenya. The lamps will be delivered with a certain time lag between them, hence allowing for bi-monthly impact assessments that will shed more light on magnitude of the ‘better energy-better education’ nexus. The team will study the education dimensions involved in accessing clean energy sources through a structured approach based on “randomized control trials”. The methodology developed by Powering Education measures pre-solar lamp and post-solar lamp performances of selected students, along with collecting additional information of the students’ village of residence, gender, proxy family wealth and living conditions.

Clearly, the success of Powering Education is a result of the distinctive characteristics and strengths of the Global Shapers Community:  the interaction of extraordinary young people based in different countries and coming from different yet complementary backgrounds makes Powering Education a truly unique project able to tackle  major global issues with extremely innovative approaches.

Powering Education was also able to leverage an outstanding set of partners, such as Enel Foundation and Givewatts, building a unique set of competencies and capabilities.

In the coming months, the team will work on finalizing the work currently underway in Kenya, while at the same time trying to extend and enrich the program, rendering it scalable and financially sustainable.

At the moment, Powering Education is already impacting the lives of 1750 people. We are thrilled to receive this support from Coca-Cola which will be crucial for us to scale up the project in Sub-Saharan Africa and in other energy poor regions of the world. We are determined to impact the lives of more and more people, and we invite you to join us in our journey of providing energy for human development! 

Mauro Ometto is Curator Rome Hub, Global Shaper Community and Founder & Project Leader of Powering Education.