MAURITS GROEN - WAKA WAKA
Co-Founder and Co-CEO
At the age of 7, I started reading newspapers (from A to Z), reading that newspapers were made from chopped down trees, and learning that we dumped finished newspapers (along with all other 'waste') unsorted on rubbish dumps. I thought that was a waste of all those trees and careless waste of raw materials. Then, over the years, I collected hundreds of thousands of kilos of waste paper, and later rags and scrap iron for what was then not yet called 'recycling'.
As a student of political science, I learned that injustice and poverty are often both the result and major causes of nature destruction and environmental pollution. Already during my studies I became an active member of Amnesty International as well as of some 'third world' and environmental organisations. After being editor-in-chief of an environmental magazine, this automatically led in 1982 to the establishment of a company of its own that advised companies, governments and NGOs on (helping to implement) policy to contribute to sustainability and on communication about it.
As the problems caused by unsustainability became bigger and more urgent, I increasingly felt that I should not stop at giving advice and communication, but that I had to show that sustainable products and companies can be possible and profitable. The co-development of WakaWaka (which contributes to the realisation of just under 12 of the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals) offered a great opportunity to do so.
Personally, it is also very satisfying 'to practice what I have been preaching all that time', to make a concrete contribution to real solutions and to be able to inspire many people to do so 'en passant'.
WakaWaka is a Dutch-based business that combines the development and distribution of solar and power products to the outdoor market, with a social enterprise. The company has supported over 250 humanitarian projects in more than 60 countries and in 2017 alone, distributed almost 19,000 products to off grid areas. Since its foundation in 2012, WakaWaka has helped provide safe and sustainable light and energy sources to over 1.3 million people, supporting refugees and others who are living in poverty. The contributions of WakaWaka have helped boost family and community health, and provided households with longer productive hours for work, study and other activities. WakaWaka aspires to ‘share the sun’ with five million people by 2020.
WakWaka makes and sells a growing range of lightweight and robust products for extreme, active and casual outdoor enthusiasts, suitable for activities ranging from trekking, trail running, skiing, snowboarding and cycling, to travel, camping, low level walking, and for time on the beach or at festivals. The company’s solar powered lights, power banks, solar chargers and other products are tough, practical and durable, developed with a socially responsible approach to supply chain management and the environment. WakaWaka products are now available in many countries, with more markets due to go live soon. For more information about WakaWaka, visit www.waka-waka.com, follow @WakaWakaLight on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram and find the brand on LinkedIn.
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