Mwezi Foundation

Location: Kenya

The Mwezi Foundation gives portable solar lights to primary school children in Kenya to help them to do their homework at night and achieve their full academic potential.

Mwezi partnered with its first three schools in the Kilifi and Kwale Counties of Kenya in 2015 and there are now over 150 Mwezi schools.

Mwezi provides lights to children in Class 8 (12-14 year-olds). Pupils borrow the lights overnight to do their homework, on a rota basis, so they can improve their grades and have a better chance of progressing to senior school, completing their education and breaking the cycle of poverty. Lights are free of charge to the schools and guaranteed indefinitely, unless they are lost.

There is a particular focus on gender as Mwezi has found that girls are more likely to remain in education if they are allocated a light. For this reason, four of Mwezi’s schools are ‘Focus Schools’, which means that all the girls in class 8 are allocated a light.

Sustainability is at the heart of the Mwezi Foundation. The portable solar lights have been designed so that all components can be taken apart and replaced. This ensures that there is no plastic waste and that the life-span of the lights is extended. The solar lights are assembled and repaired by Mwezi’s Technical Manager, John, in their workshop in Likoni, Kenya. This provides local employment, whilst also reducing the air miles that would be required if the lights were to be transported to another country for repair.

The Mwezi Foundation has fully repaired 97% of all broken lights to date, and all possible parts have been salvaged for the remaining 3%. In order to support Mwezi with its goal to reach 50% of the primary schools in the Kilifi and Kwale Counties by 2026, NextEnergy Foundation is funding the cost of repairs to Mwezi’s full solar light stock as of April 2023. This equates to 4,456 solar lights distributed to over 8,900 pupils in 154 schools. As a result, every year 179,487 additional study hours will be created and 1,335 tonnes CO2 emissions will be avoided by replacing kerosene lamps with the solar lights.

An first progress report detailing the impact of the donation will be provided by Mwezi in September 2023. Please also visit Mwezi Foundation’s YouTube channel to see some of its work come to life: Mwezi Foundation – YouTube.

October 2023 Update: Key impacts from the first six months of the project are below:

  • 699 lights repaired, including 698 battery replacements; 228 panel replacements; and, 305 bulb replacements
  • 1,398 students studying for additional hours
  • 150,984 additional study hours over the next two years
  • 6,990 wider community beneficiaries, considering 5 additional family members per student, and each solar light is shared between two students
  • 123 teachers trained in operations and maintenance

Mwezi more closely monitors the impact of the lights on four ‘Focus Schools’ which are schools where all girls in Class 8 (14-15 years old) are allocated a solar light. Impacts across these four schools include:

  • 327 solar lights distributed
  • Improvements in academic performance
  • Increase in percentage of students studying after dark, from 10% to 85%
  • Increase in percentage of students studying at home, from 24% to 97%
  • Solar lights replacing the use of kerosene lamps; 69% students reported experiencing fumes prior to receiving the solar light and 59% reported suffering from eye strain when studying
  • 100% students reported that other members of the family benefit from the Mwezi solar light

“When I am studying using the Mwezi solar light, my siblings can also do their homework. The light has also enabled me to study for more hours which has helped to improve my performance. I can complete my homework or assignment that the teacher has given me on time.”

“The Mwezi light has helped us to see clearly and read comfortably. It helps us to save the money for buying kerosene.”