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KPU students shining light on Africa

Team making soy candles, bath bombs for business component of their practicum to raise money for African kids with no electricity

They couldn’t get their collective minds around the concept of burying their heads in their books at night without having any proper light.

And when they learned that impoverished African kids were getting injured while using gasoline to produce light for a few minutes of studying, a group of Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) business students knew they had to make a difference.

That’s why the seven-strong team — who are studying for a degree in business administration at KPU’s Richmond and Surrey campuses — decided to run the business component of their practicum in aid of the African students.

After launching Shaseux this week, the group will, until March 22, manufacture, market and sell hand-crafted soy candles and coconut oil bath bombs to raise money for non-profit SolarAid, which provides solar power and solar lamps to rural, off-the-grid communities in African nations.

According to one of the students, Ashley Leitao, for every 500 ml candle they sell, a family will have light for their home for a month.

“We thought to ourselves, ‘what could we do that means something to us?’ said Leitao.

“As we were brainstorming, we thought of SolarAid; we couldn’t imagine not being able to study because we had no light.

“We’ve heard of stories of kids in African countries using gasoline for fuel in kerosene lamps. It’s very dangerous and they’re getting seriously burned, just while trying to study.”

These 100 per cent soy candles and coconut oil bath bombs are being hand-made by a team of KPU business students in order to make money for SolarAid, which distributes power and solar lamps to off-the-grid communities in Africa.

Not content, however, with lighting a family’s home for month, Leitao and her fellow “business partners” have pledged to also donate to SolarAid their wages, which have to be costed into their final profit/loss accounts.

“We wanted to do more than a month of light,” added Leitao.

“We’re going to be able to get way more lamps to way more families this way. We’re not entirely sure what other groups (on the course) are doing, but we want to do the right thing across all bases.”

The students — Joseph Watson-MacKay, Sal Marino, Willine Kwee, Puneet Thiara, Ada Tsang, Leitao and Jasleen Chahal — will all be involved in the production of the $21 candles, which are made of 100 per cent soy wax and normally retail from $54 to the high 60s.

“We’re making them in Jasleen’s family kitchen; we will be taking over that for a couple of days a week, maybe, depending on production.

“All supplies will be sourced locally. We will be melting the wax and infusing it with scent.”

The team’s bath bombs will be made of coconut oil, baking powder, Epsom salts and citric acid.

“Willine is the chef in the group and she comes from a family that has experience with this, so we’re confident of success.”

The team’s products are available for sale online at, as well as at trade shows and craft/home fairs across the Lower Mainland between now and March 22.