Lighting up lives – Bridging the energy divide

Posted By: ennovent|Dated: March 1, 2012

Barefoot Power has impacted the lives of 1 million people in over 20 countries in Africa, Asia Pacific, India and the Americas.

Lighting up lives - Bridging the energy divide

Every year more than US$10 billion is spent each year on kerosene for lighting in the homes of the poor in developing countries. The light from kerosene burning is of poor quality, expensive and outright dangerous. Nearly 4 million suffer from severe burns from open fires and kerosene lighting each year. According to W.H.O. more than 1.6 million people die from indoor air pollution related diseases.

Enter Barefoot Power

Barefoot Power began in 2005 when co-founders Stewart Craine and Harry Andrews saw the opportunity to reduce poverty in countries at the base of the economic pyramid (BoP) by providing communities with access to energy and, therefore, providing them with one of the necessary steps to eliminate poverty and propel economic development.

The Solution

Barefoot Power has developed solar LED based solutions which provide 5-15 times more light than kerosene based alternatives. The payback for these solar lighting solutions can be as little as 3-6 months. Besides lighting, Barefoot Power also provides solar based phone charging solutions.

To ensure good quality products, Barefoot Power designs and develops its products in Australia and works closely with manufacturers to set high quality standards throughout the development and manufacturing process. Barefoot Power provides a 1 year guarantee on all product components – including, solar panel, battery, SMD LEDs, and wire.

Innovation in the Business Model

Barefoot Power’s innovation is in having an innovative grassroots level distribution system.

By providing technical training & business consulting to its partners, Barefoot Power empowers micro entrepreneurs, importers, dealers, NGOs and other players in the distribution chain. This support helps to build awareness and accessibility for the solar solutions ultimately, meeting its social objective to impact communities by supplying them with renewable, safe energy alternatives.

As part of the distribution chain, Barefoot Power has a network of “Service Centers” which provide certified technical support for importers, dealers and consumers.  Access to this post sales service is instrumental in responding to the needs of Barefoot Power’s partners as well as acts as a localized source to honor warranty claims.

Eradicating Energy Poverty

The expandable nature of Barefoot Power’s renewable-energy product line means poor communities can make incremental cash investments to build their power systems watt by watt.

These communities spend the equivalent of 3-6 months of previous expenditure on kerosene and batteries. Not only do they realize health and safety benefits from using solar-powered products, but their savings enable them to move up the product range and gradually support an expanding electricity infrastructure. With low entry costs, Barefoot Power has developed a depth of products.

By bringing electricity to millions of people that currently use kerosene lighting and walk far for phone and battery charging, Barefoot Power plans on reversing the traditional process of rural electrification while reducing the global carbon footprint.

Global Plans

Barefoot Power is now a global, social for-profit enterprise that manufactures and distributes solar phone charging, lighting products and business development services.

Over 1.5 billion people lack access to electricity; Barefoot Power is on a mission to bring affordable renewable energy and efficient lighting to five million people by 2013 and 10 million people by 2015 and help eradicate energy poverty.

With the additional focus gained from their new investor, the Sustainable Enterprise Fund managed by ennovent, Barefoot Power is currently restructuring its Indian business in order to address specific issues within the market aimed to build on the good presence gained over recent years. The company plans to evaluate and expand on the existing pilot programs in schools and also with the centralized charging stations, as part of its renewed India strategy.

Do you want to make a difference at the Base of the Pyramid?

About the Author:

ennovent’s - Innovations for Sustainability

ennovent is bringing together a global network of entrepreneurs, investors and experts to create an impact at the base of the economic pyramid. To get involved, register at

For more stories on innovation at the BoP, read ennovent’s Innovations for Sustainability blog.

The views expressed above are those of the author, and not necessarily representative of the views of the Mahindra Group. 

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  • Nikhil Irri

    Pls use this image (on the top), as against boy with a bulb, to signify “spark your imagination” or “create ideas” or whatever you have on your list. How can sensible agency use BULB of all things to justify this brilliant effort of Mahindra Spark, rise!

  • Chandu


    Your effort in this working zone  is
    really great even if its not appreciate by other section of people in the world
    but Mahindra Rise as brought this issue in light that is from darkness to light
    . You all are great because for what you have done for creating a spark of change,
    A real change agents. It always reminds me about Bappu who has left a legacy of
    good thoughts in this world “you be the change where you like to see the
    change”". A real best way to express innovation. I feel you are great
    follower of these thoughts.

    Namaste and hats of to your work, Pl do send me regularly your inspiring
    thoughts and work and I am available any time in your efforts


     Mahindra Rise Thanks to inf

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