Partnership Provides Light in the Darkest Hours

Solar Power Social Enterprise Builds New Partnership to Provide Light to the Victims of Humanitarian Disaster around the World

One billion people around the world live without access to grid-electricity.  Those who can afford it use kerosene lamps – an expensive, non-sustainable and unhealthy source of light. Dependence on kerosene consolidates the continued cycle of poverty.

The social enterprise ToughStuff was set up in response to this problem; to provide an appropriate and affordable solution for rural, off-grid communities in places like Africa. The solution? Small scale solar energy.

The durable, modular range that ToughStuff offers includes solar powered LED lamps – replacing the need for constant expenditure on kerosene and creating cleaner homes, and a cleaner environment.  Typically, families take only 3 months to make back the cost of a lamp and panel, after which they can use the additional savings they make to pay for school materials, clothes, food and medicine for their families.

In 2010, ToughStuff realized that rural communities, who were permanently off-grid, were not the only ones in need of an affordable energy solution. When Haiti was struck by the devastating earthquake that claimed 300.000 lives, injured 300.000 and left one million people homeless the scale of the need for energy among IDPs and refugees was clear.

In disaster situations energy is one of the first things to fail and often one of the last to be re-established.  Yet light equals safety, security and protection particularly for the most vulnerable disaster victims: women, the elderly and children.  Light also increases the potential to provide quality education and psychosocial aid to children caught up in disasters.

ToughStuff’s International Sales Manager Jonathan Bamber, who went to Haiti, saw just how important something as simple as light was to the victims,” I clearly remember one very old lady, who had lost everything during the quake, she was so happy to be able to see at night, and be able to walk to the communal camp facilities with the reassurance of her light. She told me that the solar products she received were the most valuable possession of all the aid items she had received,“ recalls Jonathan.

After witnessing the demand for energy in Haiti first hand, ToughStuff expanded work in humanitarian disasters, partnering with NGOs to deliver solar lights to refugees and IDPs in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Ethiopia.

But given the size of the humanitarian space ToughStuff decided to look for a partner.  A company with the capacity to substantially scale up sales into the market, but also a company who shares the social values and business ethics at the heart of the company.

That is why ToughStuff chose to partner with Bestnet A/S, a company with a strongly established leadership role in the Aid & Relief market as the manufacturer and supplier of World Health Organization (WHOPES) Netprotect® Long Lasting Insecticide Incorporated Mosquito Nets (LLINs).

“We are excited about this innovative partnership. Two companies with different business models, but with a shared set of values and ethics. We are both willing go the extra mile to provide light in the darkest hours with the Sunlife® LED lamp and alleviate the suffering of the millions of victims of humanitarian disasters,” says Trine Sig,  Bestnet’s Managing Director.

8 Comments

Filed under Bestnet

8 responses to “Partnership Provides Light in the Darkest Hours

  1. Very inspiring!

    There are quite a few companies producing solar lanterns and
    mobile chargers. I compiled a list here:
    http://www.bennu-solar.com/solutions?slide=solarlanternsandbasiccharging

    And am collecting users’ feedback to compare and find out which of the various products would a well informed villager like to choose.

    Thanks,
    Yotam
    (y.ariel@bennu-solar.com)

  2. Thank you Yotam very interesting how you bench mark and help provide finansing for solar products. – Could you say a bit more about how you test and where you test?

  3. Oh, I talk with hundreds of solar businesses and organizations in developing countries, and ask them which products the villagers they serve use, what do they like, what problems they’ve had..

    Then I also compare based on manufacturer spec., or third party info like Lighting Africa (http://www.lightingafrica.org/specs).

    For example, my research results show that Sun King Pro of Greenlight Planet is the most popular solar lantern + mobile charging.

    On the other hand, I have heard Firefly of Barefoot Power had a lot of malfunctions. Though villagers like the design.

    I know that Fosera had malfunctions too, and also ToughStuff.

    I’m now building a more interactive list of products where trusted reviews can be submitted, as well as feedback from the producer. It also compare the features of each (battery lifetime, lumens, number of modes..).

    The thing is that this is very dynamic, malfunctions in Firefly might be history already, as the producer might have addressed and solved it,
    so we need to keep pouring data, and update the results.

    Sounds complex, but it has been done in other industries (digital cameras for instance).

    Then, all this info should be accessible for the villager through an SMS.

    Will keep you updated,
    and please let me know if you have any ideas,
    Yotam
    (y.ariel@bennu-solar.com)

  4. Pingback: Rio+20 Sees the Light -Business Innovation Rewarded for Bringing People out of “Energy-Poverty” | Bestnet Blog

  5. Pingback: Harvesting the Sun in Ghana | Bestnet Blog

  6. Pingback: Lighting Africa: Bringing Solar Power to the People | Bestnet Blog

  7. Pingback: Solar Powered Innovations in Humanitarian Emergencies | Bestnet Blog

  8. Hi there, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was just curious if you get a lot of spam remarks?
    If so how do you stop it, any plugin or anything you can advise?
    I get so much lately it’s driving me crazy so any help is very much appreciated.

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