SolarAid is a pioneering charity dedicated to combating poverty and climate change in sub-Saharan Africa through the power of solar energy. With nearly 600 million people in the region lacking access to electricity, SolarAid's mission is crucial. When darkness falls, families are forced to rely on dangerous and expensive alternatives like kerosene lamps, which not only pose health risks but also contribute to environmental degradation. SolarAid aims to light up every home, school, and clinic in sub-Saharan Africa by 2030, using clean, safe solar power. This mission is not just about providing light; it's about creating opportunities for education, improving health outcomes, and fostering economic growth in some of the world's most vulnerable communities.

How they do it

SolarAid operates through its social enterprise, SunnyMoney, which sells solar lights and systems in rural African communities. This innovative "trade not aid" approach ensures sustainability by creating local markets and jobs. SolarAid travels to remote areas, educates people about solar benefits, builds trust, and stimulates demand. For those unable to afford solar products outright, SolarAid pioneers innovative solutions like pay-as-you-go services. The charity also trains local entrepreneurs and technicians, ensuring long-term sustainability and community ownership. Through programs like "Light a Village" and "Light Libraries," SolarAid is constantly developing new ways to bring solar power to the most remote and impoverished areas.

Recent achievements

  • In 2024, SolarAid won the International Aid and Development category at the UK's Charity Awards for its "Light a Village" project in Malawi.
  • The "Light a Village" pilot in Kasakula, Malawi, has installed 4,000 solar home systems, benefiting 99% of residents and bringing light to all 12 schools in the area.
  • SolarAid launched a new project in Madagascar, bringing solar power to 46 schools across 8 regions, benefiting nearly 10,000 students.
  • SunnyMoney Zambia won the 60 Decibels Energy Top Impact Award in March 2024, with SunnyMoney Malawi as the runner-up.

In numbers

  • 2.3 million solar lights distributed globally
  • 12.5 million lives brightened by safe, renewable light
  • $300 saved annually by each recipient family
  • 2,400,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions averted

Affected lives

In the remote village of Kasakula, Malawi, SolarAid's "Light a Village" project has illuminated an entire community, transforming daily life for its residents. Children, once limited by the setting sun, now have extended study hours, significantly boosting their educational prospects. Parents can work longer and more productively in the evenings, increasing household incomes and opportunities. Local clinics operate more efficiently at night, improving healthcare delivery, particularly for expectant mothers who no longer fear giving birth in darkness. The village's economic landscape has also evolved, with local entrepreneurs flourishing as they harness solar power for their businesses. Solar technicians have emerged as a new profession, providing maintenance services and creating additional employment opportunities. This holistic community transformation showcases how access to clean, affordable energy can uplift entire villages, creating a ripple effect of positive change that spans generations and touches every aspect of rural life, from education and health to economic development and environmental sustainability.


SolarAid's team is a dynamic blend of passionate individuals with diverse backgrounds in renewable energy, international development, and social entrepreneurship. CEO John Keane brings over a decade of experience in the off-grid solar sector, having witnessed firsthand the challenges of life without electricity in rural Tanzania. The leadership team includes experienced professionals like Brave Mhonie, General Manager in Malawi, who brings valuable insights from his years of educating communities about renewable energy. With a board that's well-diversified in terms of age and gender, SolarAid benefits from a range of perspectives. This combination of global experience and on-the-ground knowledge positions the team uniquely to drive innovation in solar energy access and create lasting impact in sub-Saharan Africa.

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