2011 d.lightdesign

Author: Robin Zhang, Founder of Venture Avenue
Source: “China-UK Social Enterprise and Social Investment Case Studies” publication
Edited by: British Council Society Team

Case Summary:

According to statistics, there are 1.6 billion people around the world who do not have power supply. In addition, another 1 billion people do not have a stable electricity supply, most of which are in Africa and India. Many people live in darkness once the sun sets. Those who have the ability to buy lighting tools, often choose kerosene lamps, the cost of which accounts for 5% to 30% of their family income. 

However, the kerosene lamps cannot provide enough light to meet the needs of people in their living, study and production. Moreover, this will lead to serious consequences. The burning of kerosene may cause ambustion and fire disasters. It also does harm to people’s health. The poisonous gas produced by the burning of kerosene can lead to respiratory diseases, for which 1.5 million people die each year. More than half of them are children under the age of 5. Besides respiratory diseases, the indoor air pollution will easily lead to lung disease, throat disease, nasopharyngeal diseases, heart diseases and low birth weight of babies. In addition, every kerosene lamp produces 400 pounds of greenhouse gases per year, seriously polluting the environment. 

Traditional commercial companies producing solar-energy lamps cannot solve this problem properly. The major reason is that it costs too much. Considering their pursuit for benefits, the price set by commercial companies far exceeds what people can afford in the lower market. Secondly, the products of commercial companies are not designed to cater to the special needs of the poor. They are not practical. Thirdly, the sales network of commercial companies can hardly reach the remote areas. 

Therefore, several students studying in the Business College and Engineering College of Stanford University decided to design a kind of light that the poor can afford and have fewer requirements for supporting facilities.


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