D.light Design: You Are the Light of the World



One of the things that I like best about about the fight to slow climate change is that it is intimately tied to social justice and recognizes that we need to fight every bit as hard to eradicate poverty and diminish suffering in less fortunate areas of the world.
And so stories like this one fill me with hope.
D.light Design, a company that is on a mission to replace the kerosene lamps used in developing world villages, garnered $6 million in Series A funding from a venture capital firm late last year. But here’s where the story gets good. In a nutshell, D.Light’s founders have built a low-cost light with a battery and a small solar panel that can help families in the developing world save more money each month.

While solar panels and LEDs are seldom cheap, D.light’s founders – two Stanford MBAs – have created three low-cost lighting units that sell for between $12 and $30. In the developing world that can amount to a month’s salary – or more – but the company is confident that micro-financing opportunities will help people in villages buy the lamp, pay back the loan over time, and come out way ahead.
This is a good product that could bring dramatic changes to the developing world. At the moment, kerosene can consume between 15 and 30 percent of a family’s income, and more than 1.6 billion people are forced to rely on them, notably in India and Africa. So the potential market is huge.
Kerosene lamps are expensive, toxic, and dangerous, and they contribute significantly to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the developing world, says D.light Design co-founder Ned Tozun. The company’s bright, efficient solar-powered LEDs that can last between 12 and 500 hours on a single charge.
The company has paired with One World Children’s Fund to accept donations and send one of their lamps to a poor village in the developing world. A mere $25 will provide light – and a better life – for a family. And a gift of $750 will bring light to an entire village.
Photo Credit: Guinean students study under the lights of the Conakry airport parking lot in June 2008 ::: Rebecca Blackwell, AP

Richard is a writer and editor based in Halifax, Nova Scotia who specializes in clean technology and climate change. He's the founder of One Blue Marble, a climate change activism blog and web site.

One response

  1. Another interesting startup working in this area is PowerMundo, which sells wind-up radios, solar lanterns and other such products to very poor communities in Peru that have no access to electricity. (That’s the first market. They plan to branch out to other areas). Plus, there’s a job-creation element, because PowerMundo gives local residents the chance to become distributors.
    You can read more on my blog, Not Only for Profit, http://trueslant.com/annefield/2009/04/17/powermundo-power-for-the-poor/

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