reenlight Planet designs, manufactures, distributes, and finances solar-powered home energy systems and appliances for the two billion people in Asia and Africa living without access to a reliable and affordable electrical grid. To date, the company has sold over six million solar-powered lanterns and home energy systems, impacting over 20 million people in over 50 countries. Founder and CEO Patrick Walsh shares how Greenlight Planet’s design, efficient engineering, and innovative distribution strategies can make dirty kerosene lanterns a thing of the past.
What is your vision for Greenlight Planet?
We want to deliver energy that everyone can afford. With our Sun King solar lanterns, we can increase daily study time available to children, impact families’ ability to run businesses and earn income after sundown, decrease reliance on kerosene and dangerous events related to its use, and provide better air quality for families who would otherwise depend on dirty fuel sources.
Why is your solution unique?
Since 2009, Greenlight Planet (and many of our distribution partners) have operated large direct-to-consumer sales forces in rural India, meaning that a substantial amount of our retail revenue supports jobs in the local communities that benefit from our products.
In early 2016, we began selling our first “EasyBuy” pay-as-you-go solar home systems, expanding access to energy by allowing consumers to own products with lower up-front cost. Over 1000 new sales and service agents have joined us over the past year specifically for this new program, and we expect to create thousands of new jobs in 2017.
What has Greenlight Planet’s proudest moment been to date?
One thing we were proud of last year was MIT’s ranking of our Sun King solar lanterns as the best all-around products in their categories, including ranking our Sun King Pro as the best product overall in the industry.
What do you hope the world will look like as a result of your work?
We started Greenlight Planet to replace kerosene lamps with modern solar-powered lanterns. But as solar technology has improved, we expanded our product range to begin charging mobile phones, and now larger appliances like fans, radios, and televisions. Today we see ourselves competing almost at par with the traditional electrical grid, and we are expecting to offset the demand for traditional infrastructure-heavy, fossil-fuel-based energy systems. Just as consumers in rural Africa and Asia “leapfrogged” traditional phone networks to go straight to mobile, we are helping build a future in which consumers skip the electrical grid in favor of affordable solar home systems.
This company participated in Unreasonable Impact created with Barclays, the world’s first multi-year partnership focused on scaling up entrepreneurial solutions that will help employ thousands while solving some of our most pressing societal challenges.