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News : Innovation Last Updated: Mar 30, 2011 - 6:26 AM

A solar lantern and mobile charger that can improve lives of more than 1bn people
By Michael Hennigan, Founder and Editor of Finfacts
Mar 29, 2011 - 5:19 AM

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The d.light solar lantern and mobile charger is an example of a product that can both improve lives of more than 1bn people while also contributing to a sustainable environment.

In 2010, the British Museum/BBC collaboration's 'A History of the World in 100 Objects' created a stir when the d.light S200 solar lantern and mobile charger was selected as the 100th object. On the list, some 1.2m years separate the Olduvai handaxe, man's first tool to control the environment, and the solar powered lantern that can impact billions of lives.

Leo Johnson, partner, at PwC's sustainability and climate change practice in London, says the $10 d.light is a product that co-operates with the environment rather than controlling it. An estimated 2bn people have no access to electricity and they spend about $38bn annually on kerosene.

D.light was launched in 2008 and is the creation of Americans, Sam Goldman and Ned Tozun.

The company has been funded by venture capital firms and social enterprise funds from the Silicon Valley and India.

After living in Benin through the US Peace Corps in a village without electricity, Goldman met Tozun at the Stanford Graduate School for Business.

They both attended a class developing and testing simple solar-powered LED prototypes, which they discovered helped provide benefits that would eventually shape their company’s vision.

During this class, they studied the Southeast Asia Region and discovered that energy and lack of lighting serious impacts people living in this region. The benefits include cost saving, income generation, a better study environment, healthier and safer homes, and reduction in carbon emissions.

Children can study after dark; people without electricity can use mobile phones and health risks from pollution and accidental fires are reduced.

D.light's Sam Goldman:

D.light's Ned Tozun interviewed by the BBC:

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