Global Swadeshi

because one world is plenty

ToughStuff makes flexible solar cells, LED lights, rechargeable battery packs, and radio and cell phone connectors for solar village entrepreneurs in the developing world.

They also sell a solar panel and LED light combination for $30 here in the US as a "buy one, fund one" program where half the proceeds go to funding one of their solar entrepreneur kits.

We equip local Village Entrepreneurs with a set of ToughStuff products and the training and skills to rent and sell those products and create a business. The average ToughStuff village entrepreneur profits $597 - $744 in a year.

I haven't used their solar lights, yet, but it sounds like a good idea.

I have used the Bogolight which is a similar operation. They make solar lights and lanterns and have a buy one, give one program in which they will deliver one light to a family in the developing world for every light you buy. It's a good design and a powerful light that uses standard size rechargeable AA batteries. They are having a sale right now, $25.99 which is $13 below their regular price.


Recently, Steve Schafer contacted me with a link exchange offer at my other blog, Solarray. He covers the solar lighting sector and has two blogs which explain the basics of solar lighting for your home or business:
http://solarlightssite.com
http://easysolarlighting.blogspot.com

Unfortunately, even something as basic as a solar light can be misused. Yesterday I was at MIT for a talk on development issues in India. It seems that the state of Maharashtra claimed to be the first state in India to have reached 100% village electrification. Their definition of 100% was that in each village there was one household with a solar panel and a single light. Perhaps they did this in order to gain more funding from the Indian government, the World Bank, or US AID as a result of their "success." After protest by some local and development groups, their definition of village electrification changed. Now a village is considered electrified when at least 10% of the households have access to electricity. Further information on this particular bit of bureaucratic confusion of fantasy with reality may be available from the Association for India's Development.

About one third of the population of the world presently does not have electricity. That's around 1.5 billion people in the dark. With new efficient and affordable technologies like LEDs for lighting and cell phones for communication, a couple of AA batteries can raise the standard of living for that population incalculably. A couple of AA batteries can be charged by six square inches of a solar cell or a bicycle charger or a hand cranked dynamo. The barriers of entry into the 21st century of light at night and access to world-wide instantaneous communication are within the reach of everyone. All we have to do is realize it and make the relatively small investment that will make it happen.

Go Christmas shopping for the world. Purchase a solar light from ToughStuff or Bogolight.

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Cookstoves Pay for Solar in Three Tanzanian Villages
The Human-Powered Home
Small Scale LED Lighting + Off-Grid Cell Phone Charging in Mali
Closer to the Solar Brick

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