There are many companies that produce solar lighting in order to assist those who have no electricity.
Some of these are non-profits and a number operate as for-profit organizations.
Some may question which one is a better option in providing humanitarian assistance.
Non-profit operations normally are established in order to serve a social need, and usually receive charitable donations, government funding and tax deductions; however this is not to say that they are in business without the goal of turning a profit. Much of the generated profit though is in turn put back into the needs of the organization.
For-profits run much like typical companies do as they are privately funded and exist in order to make an income to run the business, pay employees and business partners.
One example of a for-profit that has seemingly combined the two business models to provide a safe, renewable lighting option to communities in need is ToughStuff solar lighting systems.
Lighting Africa assisted in the product development, which is an organization that works with private businesses to efficiently and ethically connect them with areas that need renewable lighting access. Their systems are mainly offered in unindustrialized areas and for emergency relief. They also research the particular needs of their clients, especially in African areas, where they participate in studies to further understand what would be most helpful in a solar light intended for long-term, desperately needed use.
Their line of products are sustainably produced and affordable, being much cheaper than kerosene lamps and possibly one of the cheaper solar lighting options available on the market. In addition to durable lighting, the portable configurations are also capable of charging mobile phones and radios.
Another practical design is that they have parts which can be added if needed, allowing users to only have to purchase what they need, having the option to add to it later if necessary. Parts include the main solar panel, light gear, charging pack and radio connector.
In addition to lighting up the night, ToughStuff also offers an extra resource that comes with their for-profit operation. They provide assistance to others interested in developing their own businesses selling the solar gear. This in turn arranges their community with a source of income while providing a renewable resource at an economical cost.
They believe this business model helps them to meet environmental responsibilities while further enabling social vitality. They also note that since they do not have to depend on monetary contributions or assistance, they can continually provide service to meet demands while being accountable to investors and consumers.
Although for-profit ventures may cause some to suspect they are operating solely as self interest groups, ToughStuff’s business concept combined with their in the field practices help provide communities with sustainable lighting as well as an opportunity to sustain themselves through cost-effective and ecological business enterprises.
Source: ToughStuff: Featured on Real Green TV. 2013. Episode 55.
Image Source: ToughStuff
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