The design-firm and tech incubator MPOWERD has created Luci, a solar light that features a buy-one-give-one model to let sales in the West fuel distribution around the developing world.

After charging for four or five hours in the sun, the lamp can provide a full eight to 12 hours of light.

Use it as a ceiling light, lantern, desk lamp, or distress signal.

Luci is a natural fit for the 1.6 billion people who experience energy poverty, combined with the 1.5 billion others who are either off-the-grid or can’t afford the grid.

It could help students to study at night.

It could also help prevent the deaths and pulmonary diseases that are caused by kerosene lamps (which disproportionately affect women).

Fuel can be a significant expense for people in rural areas--as much as $8 to $30 per month--who often are living on just a few dollars per day.

Luci could save these families an incredible amount of money every year in fuel costs.

MPOWRD is looking to partner with government, NGOs, and private sector companies that would buy the lamps wholesale and distribute them in country.

The "buy one" part comes at a cost of $25 on their website or $50 on their Indiegogo campaign.

2013-02-21

Buy This Amazing Looking Solar-Powered Lamp, Light Up The Developing World

The Luci light would be great for a camping trip or an outdoor BBQ. When you buy one (no surprise!) another is sent to the parts of the world where it’s more than a novelty--it’s the only light they have.

Could the same lamp that’s designed to bring light to the billions worldwide who lack quality electricity become a lighting option for wedding planners (and others) in the U.S.? That’s the ambition of design-firm and tech incubator MPOWERD, whose new solar lamp Luci features a buy-one-give-one model to let sales in the West fuel distribution around the developing world.

The design--“compact, durable, user-friendly, and, critically, affordable”--makes Luci a natural fit for two markets: one is the 1.6 billion people who experience energy poverty, combined with the 1.5 billion others who are either off-the-grid or can’t afford the grid, says Luci’s director of communications and social impact Jill Van den Brule. The other is people in industrialized nations who find themselves temporarily without perfect access to electricity: whether they’re camping, throwing an outdoor party, or dealing with a blackout. After charging for four or five hours in the sun, the lamp can provide a full eight to 12 hours of light, functioning as a ceiling light, lantern, desk lamp, or distress signal.

On a phone call last week, Van den Brule pointed out Luci’s myriad benefits for people who lack electricity, which include allowing students to study at night, preventing deaths and pulmonary diseases caused by kerosene lamps (which disproportionately affect women), empowering people to walk more freely at night through unlit and unsafe areas, and enabling families to save money on power. Fuel can be a significant expense for people in rural areas--as much as $8 to $30 per month--who often are living on just a few dollars per day. Van den Brule says that when multiplied across all the families in a community, the savings of switching to renewables like Luci could reach millions of dollars in just a number of years.

MPOWRD, currently in the process of becoming a certified B Corp, is looking into models where “government, NGOs, and private sector companies can buy [the lamps] wholesale and set up distribution at a really reasonably price in country,” according to Van den Brule. The company also recently announced a partnership with the nonprofit A New Course, which will distribute lamps to women in Tanzania and Kenya as the “give-one” component of Luci’s BOGO strategy.

The "buy one" part comes at a cost of $25 on their website or $50 on their Indiegogo campaign. (The extra costs through the crowdfunding platform go to fund “research and development for additional products, improvements to Luci, and lowering distribution costs,” according to Van den Brule.) The Indiegogo campaign is also intended to build a community of people who feel invested in the cause of ending energy poverty, a goal that MPOWRD wants to jump-start. "When people see the light--no pun intended--they get very excited," Van den Brule says.

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2 Comments

  • Gerry

    Interesting discussions occurring around the unintended consequences of 'Buy 1-Give 1' programs on the businesses in countries and localities receiving the free items.

    At least one analyst recently posited about what happens when Tom's Shoes sends a free pair of shoes 'abroad' for every pair purchased in the USA.  Is there a tipping point where the impact of that 'Free Shoes' program on the livelihoods of local shoe makers and manufacturers becomes negative there?  At what point are local manufacturers impacted negatively eg less customers for their locally-sourced shoes, etc.

  • Dian

    Good point, the ongoing, expanding or lateral consequences for actions need to be considered. Perhaps, instead of giving away these lamps they might be earned in some helpful, simple way. There is always a solution.