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Member Spotlight – November 2016 | Energy Access Practitioner Network

News

Member Spotlight – November 2016

MPOWERD

By: Joshua Multer, Social Media Associate, MPOWERD

MPOWERD is a New York City-based company that creates innovative and affordable products to help people fit clean energy into their daily lives. In 2012 MPOWERD created Luci, an inflatable solar light, with the goal of making an affordable clean energy product that people could use in any situation — from outdoor camping adventures to backyard parties to everyday living for people without access to electricity.

Here is how it works – just place the light with the panels facing up in an area getting direct sunlight for 8 hours, and the light will last up to 18 hours or more on a single charge. The unique inflatable design also makes Luci extremely durable – withstanding well over 150 lbs of pressure and falls from any height – waterproof, submersible up to 1 meter, and floatable.

Photo Credit: MPOWERD

Photo Credit: MPOWERD

With Luci, we were aiming for something much bigger than convenience. We want to empower the lives of the 1.2 billion people living without access to electricity – because life does not stop after the sun goes down. In that spirit, we founded MPOWERD on a sustainable business model that allows us to provide our clean and safe solar lights to people in developing countries at prices they can afford. Through partnerships with over 220 NGOs in over 100 countries and CSR initiatives with like-minded corporations, we have been able to make a tangible positive impact in the lives of thousands of families, and we’re excited to see what the future holds.

In that spirit, we would like to take a moment to highlight an NGO and a company with which we have done tremendous work in 2016. When the NGO New Course brought Luci lights to the Maasai in Tsavo and Amboseli, their goal was simple: boost the local economy through empowering women as business leaders.

Photo Credit: MPOWERD

Photo Credit: MPOWERD

While women are the most affected by energy poverty, they’re often excluded from the decision-making process when it comes to creating solutions. But, in the few cases where women are put in charge, they’ve been shown to make decisions that benefit the whole community much more often. So, in conjunction with the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust (MWCT), New Course created a program called E3Merge to turn things around.

The idea behind E3Merge is simple and effective: Set up women as Luci resellers, sell Luci in a way that makes them affordable for the community, and re-invest the money earned back into local businesses, boosting the economy.

The participating Maasai – some 350 strong and counting – formed women’s empowerment groups, each with a president, secretary and treasurer to manage the new business. Today, average family savings and education quality are up, along with the many health and environmental benefits that come from ditching kerosene. The communities are seeing real, measurable economic growth.

We also partnered with Texas-based energy provider Direct Energy this year to create a buy-one-give-one program for their new customers. Each time a customer signs up for Give Brighter, they receive their own Luci light, while another is donated on their behalf to someone who lives without electricity through our NGO partner network, including countries like Kenya, Haiti, Nepal and the Philippines. The lights enable people to continue their day past sunset – so children can study, entrepreneurs can keep working, and health clinics can stay open.

“The Luci light is a wonderful example of how energy innovations are changing the world,” said Manu Asthana, president of Direct Energy Home. “We are happy to partner with such a worthy organization that is innovating the way energy is used around the world. We hope this partnership helps not only bring safe, clean light to those in need, but helps connect our customers to a very worthy cause.”

The partnership has resulted in MPOWERD receiving an unprecedented number of lights to our Give program, allowing us to expand the scope of our impact in a very meaningful way.

“Direct Energy has taken a lead position on working with Socially Committed companies,” said John Salzinger, Co-founder, CBDO – MPOWERD Inc. “They have raised awareness and taken a meaningful position in contributing to positively impacting those without access to clean energy through our Give Program.”