University of East London student wants to help power a small village

Michelle Gibb

Michelle Gibb - Credit: Archant

University of East London student Michelle Gibb has started a solar-powered social enterprise in Africa.

The 46-year-old sociology student had no job or home for a period, before a life-changing experience got her back on track with her studies and ambitions.

“I found myself struggling to get a job, so I decided to improve my skills and get a degree at UEL,” siad Michelle.

“Unfortunately, I was having housing problems and went into arrears with my mortgage, I ended up losing my house and facing homelessness.”

Michelle decided to take some time away from her second year at university to travel to Africa, working on community development projects in the village of Mamuda, Gambia.

She said: “I wanted to start a new life out there. I saw people having to walk up to 4km to charge their phone, leaving it overnight, and then walking back to collect it the next day.”

As a result of her experiences, Michelle, who now lives on the university campus, went back to university and started a project working with the village and a leading renewable energy company called Off-Grid to help provide solar panels and training to build solar-powered mobile phone chargers and lamps.