Lighting up lives, one bottle at a time.

Lighting up lives, one bottle at a time.: Bringing Light and Life to the Invisibles

Bangalore, IndiaVizianagaram District, India
Year Founded:
2013
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
Start-Up
Budget: 
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Liter of Light Bangalore is working towards enabling underprivileged communities in India through simple, eco-sensitive, innovative lighting- bottle solutions to off-grid dark households and areas using discarded waste material, keeping it low cost and easily maintainable by the beneficiaries.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

WHAT IF waste PET bottles could be used to light up remotest of the villages and enable people with a tool to overcome their current limiting environment?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Light. Ignite. Facilitate. Empower. This is our guiding principle. We aspire to enable communities reeling with energy-poverty to overcome their current limitations and inspire them to strive for betterment. We act as a catalyst in this process. By bringing light to their dwellings, we aim to open up opportunities for them with regards to children’s education, safety and security, livelihood and community bonding.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Our preferred tool to accomplish this is enabling their dwellings and living spaces with eco-friendly and low-cost lighting solutions, made from discarded waste PET bottles. The tenets are: Do-It-Yourself solution, easily maintainable by the community, low cost, made from ready and locally available resources and eco-sensitive. The bottle light thus made is an off-grid solar-based lighting solution, categorized into Day-light and Night-light bottle. We target remote areas with no/less power supply or no affordability to buy commercial or public power. 1. Remote villages with no or low power supplies 2. Tribal areas and hamlets 3. Schools in remote areas 4. Slums and temporary shelters with no/illegal power connections

Awards

Zayed Future Energy Prize 2015(Liter of Light Global Movement), World Habitat Award(2014-15)
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

It happened right after we kickstarted the movement. Two months after we installed a day-light bottle into the kitchen of Ruby auntie, I happened to visit her and asked the obvious question "How do you feel?". I was almost convinced of the generic reply that it is helping them. A little background, she is a struggling mother of two and cooked outside on the street. I was humbled and immensely floored when she replied instead - " Because of this light, we have started to bond as a family, my daughter feels safer at home. I have my own privacy, my son isn't always playing around. That moment, I believed, I am in the right place. Change starts humble and always bring about subjective impact.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Projects executed: Daylight - Schools, impacting over 60 students. Slums, impacting over 150 people Nightlight - Slums, Ragpickers colony, Tribal villages, impacting over 200 people. Schools, impacting 50 10th standard students. Current and Projected future impact Social Impact : •Improve quality of life, health and hygiene. Safety and security of womenfolk, Community bonding. •Enhanced productivity - New and alternative methods of livelihood for communities, specifically women Environmental Impact: •Efficient use of discarded waste PET bottle •Prevent pollution – prevent toxic emissions from kerosene lamps Economic Impacts •Save on energy bill •Enable people to work post sunset/ inside their homes in the light thereby increasing productive hours Vision is to teach communities to learn to make lights and grow financially by spreading light around with AROHA's support.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

We want to reach the remote villages or clusters of India where no other intervention has reached or expected so far. We strongly believe that change truly happens when the rural communities are uplifted and when the elements of urbanisation reach their doorsteps to help them explore opportunities. Light is a catalyst in bringing that change. We want to replicate this model by awareness drives and having people take up in the same spirit in different parts of the country. Innovation is an aspect we need to evolve and our continual efforts are that students take up this endeavor.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

So far, we have been supporting the initiative project wise for which we do crowdfunding. We do realise the need of a sustainable financial model. We see ourselves replicating the model around technology and design for the priviliged society/schools and training corporations and NGOs and further do sales of kits to assemble the solar lights. The micro solar model of lighting can also be made self sustainable on the lines of micro credit.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

The western model of renewable energy is usually about large financed wind or hydro turbines, but maybe the idea of small, massively implemented micro solar is equally powerful. Sustainable and renewable energy must become more local and community-based. The traditional model of aid or micro-credit to afford imported fully assembled solar lights, mobile chargers, and solar pedestrian lights will only foster dependency on replacing the entire stock every few years. We want community-based micro-solar products to be assembled and available to meet the needs as and when it arises.
Team

Founding Story

It all started with me scouting for meaningful volunteering activities to engage in Bangalore, when I came across Liter of Light workshop organised by European chapter. I reached out to them to know more. What followed were a couple of SKYPE calls, workshops and installations in Bangalore Slums. The very beauty of how a short, brief intervention can bring up such a long-term change and that too, without having the beneficiaries dependent on you which is usually the case in any meaningful, slow process of change, blew my mind. I took the plunge to kickstart the movement here in India since it aligned with my philosophy of long-term volunteering/impact.

Team

Within two days, I requested my mentor Pankaj to join me and he most cordially acquiesced. Pankaj is a retired banking/IT professional and is a life-coach. I am employed with an IT organisation as a supply-chain professional. We both are involved part-time/pro-bono here and are trustees of the governing legal trust, AROHA. We both are owning the strategy and ownership. Pankaj takes care of Finance, Fundraising and Volunteer Management. I look after product/innovation, vendor management and reaching out to beneficiaries/other NGOs. In addition, we have a committed volunteer base of 20 like-minded individuals. For our related next-lighting initiative with schools, we will employ a full-time individual responsible for operations. With time, we have also found strong supporters in individuals/corporates/NGOs across the globe, who are voluntarily helping us to garner more support.
Background
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

Illac Diaz, Founder of International Movement

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

Co-Founder, Liter of Light Bangalore. Managing Trustee, AROHA

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

Affordable and Clean Energy.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.
Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

I am getting mentored by Cherie Blair Foundation for Women as a young women entrepreneur. My mentor is a Palestanian social activist employed with Save the Children in Beirut, Lebanon. Evolved in my approach with her experiences and perspectives.

We have outreach partnering NGOs who are working and making a difference in the communities we reach out to. Pre,During and Post our work there, our outreach partners are the eyes and ears on the ground and since they have already established trust with the communities, it helps us garner support faster and make the impact sooner.

We have found a strong supporter in Inspire40Percent, a German CSR advisory startup . They continually advise on refining our approach to further awareness and support in Western countries

We are associated with CSIM, Bangalore, a social initiative and management advocacy through which we network with leading social enterprises, many of whom continually advise us on our strategy and connect us further with right resources.