Entrepreneur’s bid to clean up the environment and light up homes

Through his brainchild, the Chigubhu Lantern, Manyonga aims to provide a clean, reliable, affordable light source using recycled plastic bottles and discarded lights.

In a remarkable tale of innovation and community impact, Aluwaine Tanaka Manyonga, a University of Zimbabwe electrical engineering graduate, has revolutionised the concept of lighting in Zimbabwean homes.

Through his brainchild, the Chigubhu Lantern, Manyonga aims to provide a clean, reliable, affordable light source using recycled plastic bottles and discarded lights.

The Value Creation Challenge journey of Manyonga and his company, Zar Tech, began when they pitched their revolutionary project at the Z.I.T.F Innovators Forum, sponsored by Old Mutual in April.

Their unique approach caught the attention of the Value Creation Challenge and earned them a golden ticket into the VCC3 top 25. “We selected Zar Tech as the wild card for this year’s challenge because their project is young, resourceful and a simple solution to an average Zimbabwean’s everyday problem.

The Chigubhu Lantern perfectly aligns with Old Mutual's commitment to responsible business practices and sustainability,” said Lillian Mbayiwa, Old Mutual Head of Group Marketing, Public Affairs and Sustainability.

Old Mutual, a key sponsor of the Value Creation Challenge (VCC) program, is pivotal in supporting visionary entrepreneurs like Aluwaine Manyonga on their path to success. The inspiration behind the Chigubhu Lantern stemmed from a desire to develop an affordable solution that harnessed the power of solar energy, providing clean and reliable lighting.

"I wanted to develop a low-cost solution that used solar power to deliver a clean, reliable light,” said Manyonga.

By repurposing discarded plastic bottles and utilising electronic waste components, such as LED chips and lithium-ion batteries, Zar Tech has not only created an eco-friendly lighting alternative but has also contributed to reducing environmental pollution.

Zar Tech's innovation the Chigubhu Lantern, powered by solar energy, comes with a centralized solar charger that allows multiple lanterns to be charged simultaneously, offering a practical solution to Zimbabwe's persistent power shortages. Furthermore, Zar Tech is committed to empowering communities by training school children to make their own lights.

Already, two schools in Chihota, Manyonga's hometown, have received training, enabling local children to acquire valuable skills and create their own sustainable light sources. I started in Chihota because that is where I come from, and I wanted to give back to my community said Aluwaine.

The impact of Manyonga's invention extends beyond individual households. Recognizing the value of centralized charging points, the Chigubhu Lanterns can be recharged at schools or other designated locations within the solar lighting system. This approach minimizes costs and maintenance efforts while supporting existing initiatives aimed at introducing solar lighting kits across Africa.

Manyonga's venture addresses pressing environmental and social challenges by repurposing discarded materials and offering clean, affordable lighting solutions. With the guidance and support received through the Value Creation Challenge, Manyonga stands to gain valuable insights and expertise to develop the business further, ensuring its long-term viability and positive impact on local communities.

“Old Mutual's dedication to fostering entrepreneurship and sustainable solutions is exemplified through its support for visionaries like Manyonga, who are shaping a brighter and more eco-conscious future for Zimbabwe and beyond. Through transforming discarded materials into a source of hope and brilliance. With the Chigubhu Lantern, Zimbabwe is witnessing a brighter future, one illuminated by the power of innovation and social impact,” said Samuel Matsekete Old Mutual Zimbabwe Group chief executive.

Zar Tech managed to secure a spot in the Value Creation Challenge top 10 finalists after successfully undergoing the bootcamp and pitching their business concept to of panel of judges.

The top 10 finalists are currently undergoing an incubation process where Old Mutual and partners, the British Council, The British Embassy and EFT Corporation is providing crucial resources, mentorship, and training to help participants turn their innovative concepts into sustainable businesses.

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