Five Innovators Heading to CGI: Let Their Be Light

Sep 16, 2010 11:37 PM ET

1.6 billion people live without access to electricity. Most of them are women and children living in rural areas in developing countries. In a private interview with Katherine Lucey, Founder and CEO, Solar Sister, she explained that the lack of affordable energy "hinders productivity and educational opportunities, essentially keeping people in poverty."

After twenty years as an investment banker in the power sector, Lucey decided to give back. She turned her attention from billion dollar infrastructure projects to fifteen dollar solar lanterns. Her approach to providing alternative energy in rural Uganda, while providing employment and income to women, is getting accolades and support.

There are two aspects to Lucey's solution. First, the solution involves new technology solar lanterns as the most affordable and effective means to provide light in rural homes in Uganda, and ultimately other developing countries. Lucey explained that, "at a tenth of the cost, a lantern supplies as much light as a 10 watt solar panel system, it lasts for ten years, and there are no parts or maintenance." Second, Solar Sister provides employment and income to women in the community as Avon-style sales personnel; they sell the lanterns through their social networks, and they make commissions.

Once again, as I described as "new school" in two recent posts...

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