Approximately 1.6 billion people lack access to electricity (the majority of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia) and another 1.5 billion have intermittent access to the electrical grid. MPOWERD™ Inc., a New York City benefit corporation (a for-purpose, rather than for-profit business model), wants to end energy poverty with its cheap, lightweight collapsible solar lantern, Luci. After charging the Luci lantern for 4-5 hours in the sun, the lantern provides a minimum of 8-12 hours of light. MPOWERD has distributed Lucis to households in Haiti’s central plateau and 15 other countries, recently launching a “buy one, get one” program that allows the energy rich to purchase a Luci and give another to a family in need.
Lighting up the night has education, health, public safety and economic benefits for the energy-poor. Children can study and adults work after the sun goes down, increasing opportunities for progress and income. Rape and violent crime decreased by 50 percent in Haitian slums and displaced person camps following installation of lights. The Luci would eliminate the health and environmental risks and costs associated with burning kerosene, wood or charcoal for light. Luci’s waterproof PVC enclosure contains 10 white LEDs and a rechargeable lithium polymer battery pack that can be charged while the lantern is collapsed or expanded. The 4.5-ounce Luci can be carried or hung from the ceiling to create 10 square feet of illumination.