Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm started in 2004 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. Since 2004, the firm has invested close to $500 million in both non-profit and for profit ventures, all of which have a stated mission to catalyze social, economic, and political change. We’ve written about many of the companies that Omidyar has helped start over the years – Ashoka, Mango, Kiva.org, CouchSurfing, and D.light just to name a few.
D.Light is a company we’ve covered more than a few times here on 3p. In a nutshell, the company makes inexpensive, durable solar lighting designed for sale in poor off-grid communities around the world. Their product sounds like an easy sell. It lasts a long time, it’s clean, and most importantly pays for itself in a matter of months by eliminating much of the need to make monthly kerosene purchases.
For the most part, the products are indeed selling well – over 7 million so far. But education, fear of upfront costs and other challenges remain. I sat down with co-founder Ned Tozen for a few minutes to talk about these challenges and the way D.Light is succeeding from a financial and social perspective: