Low-Waste influencer, Akua Y. Opoku, plus solar power disrupter, M-Kopa. Linda Lancaster helps us start a Green Club, and the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment.
Low-Waste Influencer, Akua Y. Opoku, Solar Power Disrupter, M-Kopa, Linda Lancaster Helps Us Start a Green Club, The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment
SOLAR POWER DISRUPTER, M-KOPA
In many largely rural, developing African nations, access to banking infrastructure may be spotty. Without universal access to banks, which includes access to bank accounts or credit cards, it’s almost impossible to set up an account with a utility company. That’s one reason folks in Kenya couldn’t access electricity for their homes. 82% of Kenyans own mobile phones while a mere fraction of that own bank accounts.
Another reason is that the electrical infrastructure is also not universally built out. As a result, many families use kerosene lamps for indoor lighting. Kerosene is a known air pollutant, exposing families to health hazards. And they’re also a fire hazard.
That’s why Jesse Moore, Nick Hughes, and banker Chad Larson founded M-KOPA in 2010 in Nairobi, Kenya. Their idea was to use a new mobile card finance technology called M-PESA, with portable, house-based, solar panel installations. In a phrase, M-KOPA sells solar panels to rural Kenyans and also providing them with credit. The off-grid solar kit includes:
- one 8W solar panel
- one high quality lithium battery
- two LED solar lights with switches
- one solar rechargeable LED torch
- one solar rechargeable radio
- one mobile phone charger
as of 2018, over 500,000 kits had been sold in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Nigeria.
Why does M-KOPA matter to us? It’s a model for developing community resiliency in the era of climate change. In the same way the portable solar kit leapfrogged entrenched technologies to give underserved and widely spaced African communities reliable, clean power, this technology can be quickly adopted in areas in developed nations when parts of their grids go down.
CLIMATE CHANGE CHAMPION AND LOW-WASTE INFLUENCER, AKUA P. OPOKU
Akua Yamoah Opoku is a Ghanaian-American who has a dream to leave her planet better than she found it. Opoku is a Black low-waste influencer. What’s a low-waste influencer? According to Jen Panaro, the founder and editor of Honestly Modern, “Low-waste living is a set of lifestyle habits through which one consciously makes consumption choices with the intention of reducing waste as a byproduct of those choices.”
Opoku’s hope is to build a powerhouse community of healthy planet activists that is diverse and inclusive. Her latest venture, Akua Yamoah Opoku, LLC (A.Y.O), formerly known as Fullbyles, is heavily inspired by the lack of diverse representation and knowledge about living a sustainable lifestyle.
She says, “Diversity of voices in the sustainability movement is the only way we will be able to address some of the most pressing issues of our time. I want you to know there is a place for you in this lifestyle. You bring something unique and you’re needed if we are actually going to make the change that we dream of.”
Opoku supports her community by providing a BIPOC sustainable business list, a blog of her experiences and knowledge, and a weekly newsletter with encouragement and resources.
Encouragement is key. From a personal standpoint, I can say that living a high-quality, low-waste lifestyle can be challenging. But she says, “Reject eco-guilt: You may feel guilty for not sticking to your sustainability goals as well as you have in the past due to changes made at your school in response to the pandemic, but be gracious with yourself and focus on baby steps in achieving your sustainability goals”
What’s nice about her commitment to community is she’s proving we’re not alone. She cares about us and knows the value of having a community and accountability.
THE FORUM FOR SUSTAINABLE AND RESPONSIBLE INVESTMENT
US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment’s mission is to rapidly shift investment practices toward sustainability, focusing on long-term investment and the generation of positive social and environmental impacts. Its vision is that environmental, social and governance impacts are meaningfully assessed in all investment decisions resulting in a more sustainable and equitable society.
US SIF’s primary activities and strategies for advancing sustainable and impact investing include:
- Producing cutting edge research as well as fact sheets and guidebooks on sustainable investing;
- Offering education and training through online, live virtual and in-person courses for financial professionals and retail investors.
- Advancing public policy initiatives through outreach to legislators and regulators and through providing its members with opportunities to engage in this work;
- Increasing public awareness of and demand for sustainable investing through engagement with and education of the media and through speaking at key investor events;
But seriously, why should regular folk care about The Forum for Sustainable Investment?
Because its members include investment management and advisory firms, mutual fund companies, research firms, financial planners and advisors, broker-dealers, banks, credit unions, community development organizations and non-profit associations.
Together, they represent $5 trillion in assets under management or advisement. Pushing that $5T toward companies specializing in products and systems designed to lessen the worst effects of, or to help us adapt and become resilient to climate change is the best use of money.
CLIMATE CHAMPION, LINDA LANCASTER ON STARTING A GREEN CLUB
Back in 2017, Linda Lancaster wrote an article for the WeAreTeachers website titled, “How to Start a Green Club at Your School.” Why does that matter to us? After all, a lot’s changed in five years. Well that’s the great thing about good advice. It’s timeless. And given the state of the climate, there’s no better time than the present to get green clubs up and running.
We encourage you to visit her webpage at WeAreTeachers.com for the full set of instructions. In the meantime, let us tease you with her seven steps to starting a green club at your school (or other community center):
Step 1. Identify a cause and start small. It can be tempting to start without a lot of direction or projects in mind, but as Ms. Lancaster says, “I recommend identifying a project (like a butterfly garden) or cause (like increasing recycling) first.” A single small project helps people get used to working with each other. It also sets folks up for success, or alternatively, if it fails, is easy to analyze and learn lessons from for the next time.
Step 2. Embrace the survey process. In other words, find out what people in your group may already know. That way, you can take advantage of existing strengths.
Step 3. Recruit school and community members by identifying what your projects’ needs are in terms of materials, resources or money.
Step 4. Stay motivated and don’t go off task. Keep notes, have regular meetings and group updates. Finish one project before starting another.
Step 5. Spread the word and share your progress. According to Lancaster, this one is important! Sharing successes keeps the group motivated, it raises awareness and will make your students feel proud of what they’re doing.
Step 6. Celebrate! And
Step 7. Pick a new project and let the magic of green continue.
DEEPER DIVE: WeAreTeachers