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.