The Lightie™

The Lightie™: A patent-pending picosolar light bulb that converts a soda bottle into a lantern

Cape TownCape Town, South Africa
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
$250,000 - $500,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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

The Lightie™ is a one-of-a-kind patented solar bulb designed from the ground up to replace paraffin lanterns & candles. It cannot cause a fire & releases zero carbon emissions. The Lightie™ will light up homes schools & health clinics with clean, affordable & freely available UV light from the sun.

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

a solar powered test tube could provide clean, safe & free light for 2 billion world-wide while preventing the deaths of 2 million people annually?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Did you know everyday around the world, 2 billion people are forced to live in complete darkness. Annually 2 million people die using paraffin lanterns & candles. Did you know this “dirty fuel” costs these people 25% of their income for just 1 hour of light a night amounting to $38 Billion spent annually powering these dirty & dangerous lights. This “dirty fuel” releases 190 million metric tons of CO2 pollution into the atmosphere each year.

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

The Lightie™ is a uniquely designed, highly efficient, clean solar powered “light bulb” designed from the ground up to be made accessible & affordable to the impoverished masses that use paraffin for their lighting needs, worldwide. It is small, durable & easy to mass distribute. It cannot cause a fire, releases zero carbon emissions, aids better health, improves education & ‘forces’ recycling. It can help impoverished end users save as much as 25% or more of their monthly income that would otherwise be spent on paraffin. The Lightie™ will light up homes, schools & health clinics with clean, affordable & freely available UV light from the sun.
Impact: How does it Work

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

A young student needs to study after the sun sets. The Lightie™ replaces the students' paraffin lantern. The Lightie gives clean safe and bright light which is perfect to study under. On average children study for an extra hour each night after switching to solar and the improved light source is shown to increase motivation, attendance and performance at school.Inhaling the fumes from a kerosene lamp is the toxic equivalent to smoking 170 cigarettes a year A mother under candle light needs to prepare dinner after the sun has set. The Lightie™ is a much safer and brighter alternative. Money saved from solar is commonly spent on better food, education and farming inputs. On average solar lights save rural African families around $70 per year.

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

Projected future impact: The Lightie will costs end users $13 and last for up to five years — just 2% of the cost of kerosene. I hope to be working with a large corporation in order to have the Lightie™ available in all corners of the globe, offering clean affordable lighting, and providing job opportunities. Over three years, the Lightie will reach 11.2 million people and save up to $316 million in income while reducing respiratory illness related deaths. I ultimately aim for the Lightie to be available on the shelves next to candles and kerosene lamps in Africa and the rest of the world by 2025.

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

I aim to have the Lightie™ piggyback off the distribution of a large corporation that has distribution power to reach all corners of the globe where paraffin lamps are used exclusively for lighting. The Lightie can be brought for resale and distributed via NGO's to encourage entrepreneurship. I hope to bring clean affordable light to the homes of the worlds’ 2.5 billion impoverished paraffin users. To achieve this, I see great value in a potential co-branding strategy whereby The Lightie™ is aligned to a leading conglomerate such as Unilever or global brand such Coke, Pepsi, MTN, SAB etc.

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

I already have thousands of preorders through my website and have attracted the interests of large corporations and NGOs globally. I hope to have secured large orders prior to manufacturing to guarantee financial sustainability.

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

D.light, Waka waka, Nokero, Mpowered, Sunking are only a handful among others all trying to solve the same problem. The Lightie™ differs in that its form factor has been designed to make use of a PET soda bottles of which 2.5 million are thrown away every hour. This saves material related costs as the Lightie™ is just the bare essentials. This means more units can be distributed in any given container vs its competitors products. The Lightie is also intuitive in that it requires almost no communication for the end user to be taught how to use it. These are just some of the differences.

Founding Story

I spent three years (since 2010) trying to find a solution of bringing safe, sustainable and low cost lighting into Africa. I wanted to understand why in this day and age and with all the technology available there were still some 2 billion living without access to light - a basic need. Over the years as I was researching I made a few different prototypes. Each time I set about making a new prototype the goal/ brief remained the same. It had to be small, light weight, durable, bright and long lasting, and of course low cost to produce on a mass scale. One day early 2013 I came across Bobble water filter bottles and the moment I saw these bottles I envisioned the concept of the Lightie in this form to fit into empty Soda Bottles instead.


Derick Smith an industrial designer with many years of experience. He is also qualified mechanical engineer. Harald has thirty years experience in electronic and hydraulic engineering. Harald is a founding member of Young SESSA. Affectionately known as "Mr Sunshine", he is passionate about renewable energy and designed the Consol Solar Jar.
About You
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Project
Organization Name
How long has your organization been operating?

Organization Country

, WC, Cape Town

Country where this project is creating social impact

South Africa, EC, Umtata

What awards or honors has the project received?
Funding: How is your project financial supported?

Businesses, Other.


Health and Hygiene, Greenhouse Gases, Waste and Packaging, Sustainable Sourcing, Opportunities for Women, Inclusive Business.

Audience: Who have you identified as your customer/recipient groups and do these groups value your solution for different reasons? How do you engage different customer/recipient groups to deliver your solution?

Primary customers identified - Those earning $1-$2 per day (BOP market), living in abject poverty and whom use paraffin and candles as their main source of fuel for lighting. These primary customers are found predominantly in third world countries.

Secondary customers identified - Middle income class found in first world countries that aspire to make use of sustainable technology to improve their lives whilst not damaging the Earth. These customers are outdoor enthusiasts, Campers and "ECO-warriors".

Scaling the solution: How would the prize money and publicity help you to achieve your objectives over the next two years?

The prize money would help me to fund the prototype to production stage. As well as the trial testing Phase (manufacturing of the MVP's - Minimum Viable Products and getting them to end users for testing purposes). My business model is based on a B2B pipeline and therefore publicity generated would help shine the spotlight on my invention and in turn open doors for opportunities with large strategic and corporate partners. The prize money would also allow the freedom to work on additional models to cater for a different set of needs within the chosen markets.

Experience: Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered
Are you are eligible to attend the Accelerator event in Cambridge and subsequent events in London, UK in January, 2015?


Will you require a visa to enter the UK?

Are you are a current Unilever employee?