According to Salima Visram, 1.3 billion people around the world rely on kerosene lamps as their only source of light — a dangerous method that results in entire villages and communities being burned down due to lamps being knocked over.
“Families living on $1 a day spend 25 percent of their income on this every month,” said Visram.
This was the impetus for Visram to launch Soular, which develops solar-powered backpacks for developing communities. Visram shared Soular’s story at TechTO, where she talked about how having access to light empowers children to take control of their education. The company has distributed backpacks across Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.
“If kids don’t have access to light, how do they do their homework? How do they get into secondary school? How do they get out of the vicious cycle of poverty?” said Visram.
To continue their mission, Soular uses a one-for-one model; people who buy Soular-brand backpacks in North America will provide a child in need with a solar-powered backpack. The brand has been marketed by companies like Disney, and endorsed by celebrities like Lupita Nyong’o.
“A lot of people told me I couldn’t do it when I first started it…when I asked a CEO for advice, she said you can’t do good and make money, so focus on making money because you’re not Mother Theresa,” said Ismail. “But what I want to say is that the no’s don’t matter, just focus on the ‘yes’.”
Watch Soular’s Hack of the Month presentation below:
The next TechTO takes place on January 16. Get your tickets now!