Copenhagen, Denmark, 22nd December 2016 PRNewswire – Using an entrepreneurial distribution model, the Natural Light project will now donate a second installment of 20,000 solar lamps. These will be sold by new sales agents in off-grid communities in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone and, for the first time, in Malawi.
The aim of this project, besides bringing a sustainable light source to off-grid communities, was to create a business model for local sales agents to make a living. This has been a great success. Today more than 50 sales agents in three African nations – Zimbabwe, Zambia and Sierra Leone – have their own businesses selling Natural Light solar lamps.
The Natural Light project, in collaboration with social business Little Sun, and NGO Plan International, was created to celebrate the VELUX Group’s 75th anniversary. Following an international design competition last year, which received 172 submissions from all over the world, the winning design was chosen and 14,500 units of the solar lamp were distributed in Africa – one for each employee of the VELUX Group and its sister companies.
Olafur Eliasson, artist and founder of Little Sun, says: “The Natural Light solar lamp is not only about providing energy to off-grid communities in Africa; it gives people the means to take charge of their own lives. By providing sustainable, reliable and affordable light, we’ve given people more independence and now they are able to work, study and cook safely in the dark.”
Alongside light, the Natural Light solar lamps will also help to improve air quality by reducing the widespread use of toxic, carbon-emitting kerosene lanterns, and instead, harness the sustainable energy of the sun.
Michael K. Rasmussen, Senior Vice President, Brand, the VELUX Group, says: “As a company built on knowledge of light and fresh air, the Natural Light project was a beautiful way to celebrate our 75th anniversary and bring better living environments outside our normal markets. Apart from light for reading or cooking after sunset and substitute the smelly kerosene lamp, the Natural Light project has helped foster young, ambitious entrepreneurs who now have their own businesses.”
He continues: “We have extended the program to Malawi after the very positive uptake in the other countries – team members from Zambia had shared the story with the new project participants in Malawi, and we are excited to have them join the Natural Light family.”
The additional Natural Light solar lamps are ready for distribution. A number of local sales agents in Malawi will be trained on how to sell the solar lamps in the coming months, through a series of workshops, roleplays, demonstrations, and group work.
About the VELUX Group
For 75 years, the VELUX Group has created better living environments for people around the world; making the most of daylight and fresh air through the roof. Our product program includes roof windows and modular skylights as well as a range of decoration and sun screenings, roller shutters, installation solutions and intelligent home controls. These products help to ensure a healthy and sustainable indoor climate, for work and learning, for play and pleasure. We work globally – with sales and manufacturing operations in more than 40 countries and around 9,500 employees worldwide. The VELUX Group is owned by VKR Holding A/S, a limited company wholly owned by foundations and family.
About Little Sun
Little Sun is a social business and global project founded by artist Olafur Eliasson and engineer Frederik Ottesen to bring clean, reliable, affordable energy to the 1.1 billion people in the world living in off-grid areas without electricity. The project’s first product, the Little Sun solar LED lamp, is sold all over the world. The second product, Little Sun Charge, a solar phone charger, was made possible thanks to a Kickstarter campaign and is now available worldwide. Purchasing Little Suns in areas of the world with electricity makes the products available in off-grid areas at reduced, locally affordable prices, where they provide a clean alternative to toxic and expensive fuel-based lighting and a steadfast and clean alternative to relying on the electrical grid.
Little Sun addresses the need for energy in a sustainable way that benefits off-grid communities by working with local entrepreneurs, creating local jobs, and generating local profits. The Little Sun project was officially launched in July 2012 at London’s Tate Modern. Since then, more than 450,000 Little Sun lamps have been distributed worldwide, with almost half going to off-grid areas. In April 2014, Little Sun received a ground-breaking $5 million impact investment loan from Bloomberg Philanthropies, making it possible to scale Little Sun’s operations across the African continent.