-I wrote about a series of energy related paradigms that require shifting. One paradigm every week. This is number six-


What is energy? I have raised this question to thousands and thousands of people in audiences all over the world, many of which consisted of energy professionals. Hardly anyone came up with a clear and correct answer. Most of them said something like the answers you see in above image.

Note the answer I got in Barcelona.

The thing is: we have no clue about the origins of our basic needs anymore. Just like children who believe that milk comes out of a milk factory, most adults do not realize where their energy comes from.

The answer is actually very simple: energy is the ability to do work. If I eat, my body converts my food into an energy resource, so that I can do work. If I convert a resource into electricity I can let machines work for me.


Our lack of understanding the origin of energy works just like our disconnect from the origins of our food. If we full well realize that a cellophane packaging with the word “chicken fillet” printed on it was once a living and breathing animal with a beating heart, and that we hired some anonymous person to kill it for us, the world would count many more vegetarians. If we were to raise the chicken ourselves, and then kill it with our own hands before we could eat it, even more people would choose to let it live.

19 people work for you, 24/7

The fact that we have no clue about the energy we use makes it easy for us to over-consume. The oil, coal and gas we burn was once a plant, an animal, or even a human being. If our basic energy needs for heating, cooking and lighting our homes would be covered by human labour, each and every European or American household would have to hire 19 people 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Another comparison: we consume the equivalent of lifting 20 thousand cars all the way to the top of the Eiffel tower every year.

"Do you know what that means?"

Today I am at Kwale Girls' High School in Kenya to assist with our TwoBillionEyes project, where we provide amazing eyeglasses to people who cannot afford them otherwise, enabling them to fulfill their dream of completing an education.

It means that every African can be freed from their prison of poverty

I brought a WakaWaka Base –a foldable solar panel powering my phone and light- with me. The first Base to hit the African continent. As I put it out in the sun for a recharge, it drew the attention of Bessy, one of the teachers. I told her about my wish for every African to create electricity out of sunlight so that they can light their homes and charge their phones. Her mouth fell open: “Do you know what that means? It means that they can access the world through their smartphones. It means that women have to spend much less time and money fulfilling their families’ basic energy needs, creating stronger families. It means that every child can do their homework thanks to electric light. It means that every African can be freed from their prison of poverty and build a future.”

 Bessy knows exactly what energy is.

Arash (1977), entrepreneur, startup coach, speaker, sets up an impact growth fund that empowers people to build their economy of abundance. Watch his TEDx here.

You can read Arash' other articles in this series here:

Paradigm #1: No energy savings will save us

Paradigm #2: Alternative is not alternative

Paradigm #3: Thank you fossil fuels!

Paradigm #4: Colonialism is over? Think again

Paradigm #5: Leave Africa to the Africans