775 million people don’t have access to energy worldwide.
“The little things we do for people go a long way,”
Stanley Anigbogu, CEO LightEd.
Life is a collection of moments, both common and extraordinary, that shape the course of our personal story. But it’s in the ones we call the “little things”, the intangible kind words, a friend’s hug to share our joy or sorrow, or the smile of a stranger -those tiny glints that could often go by unseen- where we find the traces to a road of light and fulfillness, once we can hear how they whisper into our soul.
Within those “little things”, Stanley Anigbogu found his calling, the will to help thousands of the most vulnerable people in Nigeria to have a better quality of life and the access to one of the most essential utilities: energy.
The Power of Words
Stanley Anigbogu was born in Onitsha, Anambra, Nigeria. His mother has a degree in engineering and his father was a filmmaker. He is the oldest of 5 siblings and had a strict upbringing. While he wasn’t allowed to go outside and play with his friends, he turned to his home’s books for entertainment, reading mostly his mother’s engineering books and science journals. It was those famous engineers and innovators from around the world that motivated his interest in technology. But it was his grandmother Comfort Amachukwu’s words that gave him the strength to follow his calling.
“My grandmother was the one that always told me: “You are destined for great things. Do not listen to people telling you it is not possible. Keep on moving, don’t give up. One day the world will celebrate you. Legends never die, they live forever in the minds of those whose lives they have changed.” I just wish she could see what I do now,” recalls Stanley, with a gleam in his eyes.
From Imagination to Reality
Stanley was 9 years old when he saw the first Iron Man movie. Watching the main character building robots with scrap material motivated his interest in creating new technological inventions. Soon, he began using his toy’s components to bring his ideas to life.
“I made a lot of fun projects. My dream was to do amazing inventions. Back then, I didn’t imagine myself working directly with communities and making people smile with my inventions. I thought about inventing time traveling machines or rockets or my own Iron Man suit. But that changed along the way. I found out that I could help people’s lives and decided I would use my passion and my skills to build solutions that had meaning for the communities instead,” explains Stanley, who is now the CEO of LightEd, an organization which provides clean energy through recycled materials to vulnerable communities in Nigeria.
Lack of Energy Increases Poverty
Turning on an appliance, charging our phone or being able to illuminate a dark room are some of the many things millions of us do everyday without considering how fortunate we are to have electricity at our disposal. But not all of us are equally fortunate. In fact, according to the International Energy Agency 775 million people didn’t have access to energy in 2022.
And the World Bank indicated in 2021 that Nigeria had the largest lack of energy access compared to the rest of the world, which represented an annual economic loss of $26.2 billion dollars to Nigerian businesses.
Besides the economic implications of the energy deficit in Nigeria, the lack of electricity creates a health hazard due to indoor pollution because people turn to oil or firewood for cooking or heating. This represents the biggest cause of early death which claims the lives of 1.6 million worldwide a year, as noted in Our World in Data in 2020.
“There is a huge amount of people who don’t have access to energy. That’s what inspired us to create solutions for these communities,” explained Stanley.
Sharing the Light
Stanley studied science in high school but he obtained much of his knowledge building projects from looking at encyclopedias and youtube channels, failing and rebuilding again. He also studied engineering for 2 years in Morocco, where he began his first community project.
“I started the sustainable energy project when I was 20 years old. The first edition was in Morocco, in a village. We were able to provide assisted energy for 10 families. The project was supported by the French Embassy in Morocco,” remembers Stanley.
This would be the spark that lit the way for his current project: LightEd which he founded with a group of friends as an organization and now provides sustainable and affordable lighting solutions that combine recycled plastic and electronic materials to create clean energy through lamps and solar stations. Stanley has implemented this project in 2 refugee camps and a refugee school in Nigeria, helping over 5,000 people.
“There was a conflict in the states in Nigeria and many people lost their homes and jobs. They are in camps until they can get back on their feet,” explains Stanley. “Many people are going through a lot more than what we are going through. They are suffering, they don’t even have enough clothes or enough food or a roof over their head. So what we do provides free access to light. These installations improve their way of living, saving them a lot of money. Instead of buying candles and lamps they are saving their money for other things.”
The Little Things
LightEd has become an organization with 3 full-time and 4 part-time employees, as well as volunteers that work towards helping to bring out those who need it the most out of the dark. At this moment, The Pollination Project has given them a seed fund to continue with their work which will allow them to install 600 lamps in Nigerian refugee camps.
“I heard about TPP from a friend who does similar work and I applied. I was extremely happy that our project was worthy enough to receive funding and we are very happy that this will allow us to go to another camp to help more people,” says Stanley.
Currently Stanley is studying Entrepreneurship Leadership at the African Leadership University in Rwanda and he has already had many recognitions to his work. He won the UN-Habitat Scroll of Honor Award in 2022, the World Bank Group Pitch Competition in 2022, the Diana Award, the Falling Walls Engaged in 2021, The Opportunity Desk Impact Challenge in 2021, the J & J Champions of Science in 2020 and the Fishbowl Grand Prize. But there is a particular recognition he holds very dear to his heart.
“In a camp, after we installed our systems and provided the people with lamps, women were dancing and singing. They were so happy and they were praying and giving us their blessings. I feel that was an amazing reward. The happiness that we saw in their faces was truly an inspiring point”, says Stanley, as he recognizes how the “little things” can fuel our motivation to help others and spread joy.
If you are inspired by this work and have an idea for a project that addresses an issue that you are passionate about, we’d like to invite you to submit an application and together we will build a better, more compassionate future!
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