October 28, 2015 • East Africa, Startups, Top Stories
Former Aga Khan Academy, Mombasa, student Salima Visram has become a social entrepreneur even as she studies as an undergraduate in Canada, with the launch of a crowd-funded Kenyan business producing school students’ backpacks that create solar lighting for pupils to do their homework.
The business, last month, delivered its first 500 back packs in Kikambala Primary School, in Mombasa County.
“Studying at the Aga Khan Academy Mombasa greatly improved my leadership skills and helped me grow my community development skills. I received an educational experience beyond the classroom that helped me learn about the real-world implications of what i was studying.”
– Salima Visram
Salima grew up in Kikambala witnessing the effects that poverty and the lack of electricity had on school going children and came up with the solar back pack, which she calls the Soular Backpack. The backpack allows children in rural areas to leverage the power of the sun during their long walks to and from school to provide light for reading at night.
The back packs consist of a solar panel, a battery pack and an LED lamp. The solar panel stores solar power during the day and allows the LED lamp to be connected to it during the night as a light source. For four hours of charging, the back pack is able to give out seven to eight hours of light a night.
In January, Visram raised $38,000 (Sh3,990,000) through crowd-funding platform Indiegogo, which she used to place the first order of 2,000 backpacks to distribute to the Kikambala village as a pilot project.
“Salima’s vision and implementation demonstrate the power and importance of empowering our students to create solutions to the problems that are hampering Kenya’s development, and we see her emerging rapidly as a role model for all that the Academy stands for, and its mission in positioning talented young students as future leaders driving change and poverty alleviation for all.”
– Bill O’Hearn, Head of Aga Khan Academy, Mombasa.
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