'd.light' is a consumer products company that sells solar LED lamps to people around the world that don't have access to reliable and safe electricity sources. Last year, Trend Hunter covered d.light's triumphant win of the Ashden Award (a distinction that focuses on sustainable energy and its relation to livelihood). Certainly, a more in-depth look into what exactly d.light does -- and how, or if, it qualifies as a social enterprise -- is crucial.
d.light has a buoyant vision of replacing all kerosene lanterns, which are dangerous due to the poisonous fumes, with safe and bright light that allows for optimum studying and household chores in the evenings. On the d.light website, the benefits of this low-cost solar lamp are broken down into five different (but related) valuable impacts for customers. First, switching from kerosene to d.light creates monetary savings. When the d.light is used for professional or business purposes, for example in farming or shop-keeping, d.light products end up paying for themselves in sometimes six months. Second, d.light allows for a more productive income generation due to improved lighting and increased nighttime productivity. By having an extended work day, some of d.light's customers have disclosed that they have had as much as a 50% income increase per month. Third, d.light allows for a more effective study environment for children who are able to read and write for longer periods of time. Fourth, d.light LED lamps do not contribute to indoor pollution like kerosene lamps do, which creates a healthier home overall. Last, by switching from kerosene to d.light, CO2 emissions are reduced worldwide. According to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories, the main source of greenhouse gas emissions comes from fuel-based energy, like kerosene.
So, is d.light a social enterprise? In February of this year, Just Means interviewed Kate Welch, Chief Executive of Acumen Trust to assess whether or not d.light is a true social enterprise. Welch explained that d.light has impacted 2.5 million people to date and have important investors, but has not yet made a profit. Clearly, d.light addresses both an environmental and social issue but the bone of contention is that, currently, it is unclear how any future profits will be used. Welch told Just Means that â€œa commitment to put 50% or more of the profit to address a related social issue would transform d.light into a true social enterprise.â€
Clifton House, 75 Fort Street
PO Box 1350
KY1-1108 Cayman Islands
Additional Photo Credits: d.light Facebook Page