Harnessing the Power of the Sun


Nearly 1.3 billion people worldwide lack access to electricity, 97 percent of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa and countries across Asia. Inextricably linked to human development and success, eliminating energy poverty and breaking the deadly dependence on fuels such as kerosene and biomass are required for the world’s most vulnerable to safely work, learn, cook, and live. Through innovative, affordable solar solutions and inclusive business models, CGI members are lighting the way to better futures for millions around the globe.

WakaWaka: Home and Personal Solar Light and Power Source (2011)

Commitment by: WakaWaka and Business Creation Investments AG
Commitment Partners: Paul Naastepad, Do-inc, Groen en van Gestel, WakaWaka

The ‘WakaWaka’ lamp — which means ‘shine bright’ in Swahili — is the size of an average smartphone and weighs less than five ounces. But this compact device is a powerful source of up to 80 hours of safe, sustainable energy after charging for a single day in the sun. Just a prototype when the commitment was announced in 2011, the low-cost technology is now positively impacting nearly 900,000 lives, approaching the commitment’s ultimate goal of reaching 1 million people through 1 million solar lights by the end of 2016. By applying various business models in more than 20 countries — including buy-one, give-one structures to aid refugees in Syria and Typhoon Haiyan victims in the Philippines, or training micro-entrepreneurs in Nigeria and Nepal — WakaWakas are being used by those who need them most.

Solar Energy for Housing and Education in Rural Mexico (2014)

Commitment by: ILUMÉXICO
Commitment Partners: Schneider Electric SA, United Way Worldwide, Spectron Desarollo, Government of Mexico

Expanding the electric grid across Mexico’s diverse landscape faces a multitude of geographic and financial limitations, leaving 3 million people energy poor. In response, the social enterprise ILUMÉXICO is bringing its autonomous solar lighting and electrification systems to off-the-grid rural communities. Each user-friendly system consists of a solar panel, battery, and proprietary electronic controller. When paired with tailored microloan assistance to buy the equipment, ILUMÉXICO customers yield long-term financial savings while securing better health and environmental outcomes. Last year, ILUMÉXICO and its partners across sectors committed to install 1,500 solar systems for households and communities, and 22 for schools, in five rural impoverished areas of Mexico by mid-2016. Through donations, government subsidies, and ILUMÉXICO’s long-term project management leadership, the commitment is on its way to empowering thousands across the country.

Catalyzing Rural Energy Micro-Entrepreneurs in Rwanda (2014)

Commitment by: Nuru Energy
Commitment Partners: BLC Chambers, Latham & Watkins LLP

Nuru Energy and its commitment partners are marrying micro-entrepreneurship and a portable, pay-as-you-go recharging platform, called the Octopus Charger, to secure livelihoods across rural Rwanda. Village-level entrepreneurs (VLEs) are trained to sell affordable Nuru LED lights to their communities — made up of subsistence-level households earning less than $1.50 per day. They then offer recharging services through the Octopus Charger for a nominal fee. The platform uses both solar and human energy to recharge any USB-powered device, including mobile phones and tablets, and can recharge five Nuru LED lights simultaneously in just 20 minutes. Each LED provides more than 28 hours of light. Committing in 2014 to scale up these activities in East Africa, Nuru Energy will set up an additional 2,000 VLEs and distribute 240,000 Nuru LED lights by the end of 2016.

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