Charity SolarAid advocates championing failure

PRESS RELEASE, May 12th 2023

Charity SolarAid advocates championing failure in its new podcast ‘Permission to fail’

Is the charity sector a place for true disruption and can embracing failure help tackle some of the world’s most pressing issues? In its new podcast, ‘Permission to fail’, UK based international development charity SolarAid, shines a light on their experience of trial, error, philanthropy and entrepreneurship when delivering solar energy to rural last-mile communities in sub-Saharan Africa.

With nearly 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa lacking electricity and with less than a decade to go until 2030 when the world is to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals, SolarAid advocates for the importance of not only embracing, but also championing failure in a true attempt to learn and succeed together.

Episode 1

In the first episode of six, host Kirsty Adams, together with guests from SolarAid, John Keane (CEO), Richard Turner (Director of Fundraising) and Brave Mhonie, (General Director, Malawi), explores how setting big ambitions and daring to fail can inspire, elevate and take projects in new unexpected directions.

Listen to Episode 1 (Embargoed until 16th May 2023, will be available on all major podcast streaming services).

Link to press pack (with images)

Webpage Permission to Fail


“We knew that we were on a pathway to success but we were nowhere near to achieving it, and actually, the clock was ticking and so much more needed to be done. Ten we realised, we cannot achieve this goal by ourselves, we have to do it in partnerships and we have to think again as to how we achieve this goal. And so it inspired innovation, it inspired creativity but it also inspired a lot of ‘okay, this is not enough’.” – John Keane, CEO

“We were driven by a social mission, and selling a million [solar] lights was not enough, we knew that we needed to test and trial and do many more things that may or may not work in order to have a chance of progressing towards the mission.” – John Keane, CEO


John Keane, SolarAid, CEO, SolarAid

John Keane who is currently based in Zambia with his family, moved to rural Tanzania in 2000 and was part of setting up SolarAid’ in 2006. He has held many positions in the organisations since and took on the role as CEO in 2017. Having written a book on pico-solar and delivering talks around the world, he is a well known name in the last mile distribution sector and has been instrumental in creating a last mile market for handheld solar lighting in rural Africa. Twitter , LinkedIn

Richard Turner, SolarAid, Director of Fundraising, SolarAid

Richard Turner, who worked as Chief Fundraiser at SolarAid from 2011 to 2016 returned as Director of Fundraising in 2021. With over 30 years of experience as a Fundraiser at Oxfam, Farm-Africa, FFI and ActionAid UK he is a well known name in the UK Fundraising sector. Richard has been delivering fundraising training for charities around the world, inspiring organisations to turn supporters into advocates by offering a great experience, by learning from failure, and by telling a great story. Twitter, LinkedIn

Brave Mhonie, General Manager, SunnyMoney Malawi

Brave Mhonie joined SolarAid’s social enterprise SunnyMoney in 2008. Starting out as a field officer he played an instrumental role in setting up the import of solar products to Malawi and launching the first schools programmes in the country. As the current General Manager he is leading the team in developing innovative business models to accelerate sustainable energy access in rural areas. Brave is seen delivering talks around the world on last mile energy access and is a board member of the Renewable Energy Industry Association (REIAMA) in Malawi. Twitter, LinkedIn


Established in 2006, SolarAid is a UK based, international charity that tackles poverty and climate change by providing access to clean, safe solar light in rural areas. Through its social enterprise, SunnyMoney, they are working with entrepreneurs, schools and health clinics to distribute solar lights to people without electricity in Zambia and Malawi. @SolarAid


Sofia Ollvid, Communication Director, [email protected], +44 (0)79 386 038 24

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