Annure, an initiative launched by Shosha Kamal, is delivering solar powered lanterns to African homes for every purchase of their lighting fixtures.
Imagine a complete and total absence of light. Not in your room, not in your home, not in your school, not anywhere in the entire city. In this dim world, you would rely on the polluting and expensive light of kerosene lamps or wax candles, and breathe through the damaging fumes for just a hint of illumination. For around 600 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa, this is reality. “Light is the distance between imagination and reality,” actor Ahmed Helmy says as the brand ambassador of Annure Lighting, a brand founded by Shosha Kamal Design House. Annure brings Egypt’s designers and artists together to craft innovative lighting fixtures, and, for every purchase, Annure will ensure that African homes are illuminated by solar powered lanterns.
“Three years ago we came across a report that put the darkness around the world in numbers. Immediately, we knew that design had a role to play in this,” Managing Partner Sherine Mahgoub tells SceneHome. This initiative got off the ground with one of their first proposed solutions: solar-powered lanterns. Charged during the day, they can last up to 14 hours, more than long enough to last through the night.
“We began with Zambia and we were able to light up 200 rooms,” Mahgoub says. “Recently, we had a team visit to observe the situation from the ground.” What they found was certainly enlightening. The project became about more than just rooms or homes. Since the lanterns are portable, people were getting creative, using them for every kind of function. The lanterns brought people together and revitalized their communities. “When there is light, there is life,” Mahgoub continues. “Women would take them to the markets and at night, they would be used for entertainment.”
With the support of board members such as Amr Helmy, Egyptian architect and entrepreneur, Heba El Sewedy, founder of Ahl Masr Foundation, Hisham Kharma, musician and social entrepreneur, and Walter Marrioti, editor-in-chief of DOMUS, an Italian design publication, Annure was able to strike key partnerships that contributed in the success of this mission. One such partnership is with Solera, the MEP contractor providing off-grid solar energy solutions in Africa.
“Solera were involved in African developments, they helped us access areas and identify the most in need of support,” Mahgoub explains. “They are critical in the success of our endeavor as they maintain the products and provide necessary training for their usage.”
In enthusiastic vitality, Annure displays delicately curved pendants, flora-inspired appliques and shabby chic luminaires fashioned in wood or metal, making for a bright portfolio suitable for interiors and landscapes. And while these look stunning enough already, Annure’s designs are always open for growth, constantly inviting designers to submit their proposals without restrictions. This guarantees a variety of sizes, designs and prices, catering to as many people as possible.
“We were sending our message by getting people involved,” Mahgoub says, referring to Annure’s interactive exhibition at this year’s Cairo Design Award. Rectangular frames were arranged in a wiggly order, intriguing the visitors to take a stroll through them. Each time they would step on a frame, it would light up with lively colours. Depending on the pedestrian’s nature, some would take their time and see how each frame comes to life and others would just have fun with it by being quick, creating a visual burst. The message here - the message Annure wishes to share - is clear: a couple steps can make the lives of others a whole lot brighter.