In regions not connected to the grid, people often have to rely on burning wood or kerosene to get lighting. But with recent advances in portable solar, a new, clean solution is becoming available to an increasing number of people in those regions.
Let’s take a look at what d.light has been doing to solar up the world, especially in those regions that need it most. As a market leader, the company has made an impact on the lives of more than 65 million people, including 17 million school-aged children, with its solar lighting and solar home system solutions. It now aims to reach and empower 100 million people with affordable and reliable solar by 2020.
To reach that goal, d.light has secured a $22.5 million in financing to grow its PayGo pre-paid business that will see it expanding access to its solar solutions to families and small businesses all over the world. The PayGo Platform is unique in its flexibility and supports a full range of payment options. d.light provides the technical support required to establish payment, customer support and credit distribution systems.
The company raised $15 million in Series D equity from KawiSafi Ventures Fund, Energy Access Ventures, Omidyar Network and NewQuest Capital Partners. Debt funding of $2.5 million was also raised through SunFunder.
d-light also received more than $5 million in grant funding. Shell Foundation, the U.S. Agency for International Development – Development Innovation Ventures (USAID-DIV) and United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) were key contributors to this round of funding.
The new funding will be used to increase sales for its D30 solar home system, and bring new products to market that can power other appliances, such as TVs and fans. Currently, d.light operates five distribution hubs in East Africa, West Africa, India, Southeast Asia and the United States.
“d.light has proven to be a leader in providing families at the base of the pyramid with an easy and affordable way to switch from kerosene to solar light,” said Amit Gupta, Partner and Chief Operating Officer of NewQuest Capital. “We believe that PayGo-enabled products provide the perfect way to put those in the developing world on the pathway to energy ownership, and we’re happy to support d.light in developing this portion of their business.”
Janendra Singh is a farmer in India. He lives in a village without regular electricity so his family relied on kerosene lamps for lighting. Kerosene, of course, is very smoky, smelly and blackens the home and clothes with soot. But that’s past now as the family has replaced kerosene lamps with a d.light lantern.
Besides making their homes cleaner, they are also saving money. “Because we don’t need to spend any money on kerosene, we save around 200 rupees a month,” he says. Another benefit is that his daughter now can study more comfortably and Janendra’s daughter previously relied on kerosene to study, which was dangerous and produced poor-quality lighting. Now, she can study longer, and more efficiently.
Elsewhere in Kenya, the herbalist Apollo owns a popular business in the center of the village where he lives in Maasai land. Apollo uses his d.light lantern to light his home and to walk home at night. “Without it, I would be blind. People in the community slowly are warming up toward solar…. It just came in very recent—very helpful—I can read and write at night,” he says.
Image source: d.light