Project Aims to Bring Light to an Entire Country With Solar Lanterns

©. Esenciales J.S. SRL

This crowdfunding campaign intends to help illuminate the lives of millions of Dominicans who face the daily prospect of blackouts, as well as those in the country who don't have electricity.

For about $5 per person, the Dominican Light Project will be able to supply a reliable source of light, and one that doesn't require fuel or batteries, to those who now rely on dirty (and expensive) kerosene lanterns and candles for their after-hours illumination.

Reliable electricity and lighting, both for work and for home, are two things that many of us in the developed world take for granted, but in many developing countries, the electrical grid is either non-existent or prone to blackouts, which can leave millions in the dark each day after the sun goes down. And to compound the effects of the lack of power, many dwellings may also not have an indoor toilet, which means that a trip to the bathroom after dark isn't nearly as simple, or as safe, as it is in a modern home.

In a home without many lighting options, one small solar lantern can help an entire family to not only feel more secure after dark, but can also give children more time to study and do schoolwork, as well as essentially extend the day for domestic tasks or other work. By having a light source that doesn't require the purchase of batteries or fuel, families can spend less of their time paying for the convenience of lighting, and more time doing what really matters to them, whether it's education or entrepreneurship or preparing food or just connecting as a community.

According to The Dominican Light Project, the reliance on candles and kerosene lanterns as the main source of lighting for so many people leads to thousands of fires per year in the nation, as well as contributing to poor health outcomes (from indoor air pollution), and can cost people up to 25% of their working class salary. And that's just the impacts of the basic human need for illumination, which so many of us have at the click of a switch, 24/7, from a clean (locally clean, anyway) source. To move the needle on this issue in the country, the Dominican Light Project hopes to garner enough crowdfunding support to light up the whole nation with solar lanterns, at the cost of about $5 per person.

"Esenciales’ mission is to provide every Dominican home in need a safe source of light. We aim for no child to be left without light to study with, and no family to be left without a sense of security light delivers. After food, water, and shelter, light is the next basic human need..."

The project is rather ambitious, as the amount of money required to light up the entire Dominican Republic with solar lanterns is estimated to be somewhere north of $25 million, but the Indiegogo campaign is starting with a much more attainable goal of raising at least $25,000 over the next month, which will help meet the lighting needs of about 5000 families. This isn't a consumer-facing crowdfunding campaign, either, as there are no perks for backers, so it will be interesting to see if this succeeds without the 'buy-one-give-one' model that some other social enterprises adopt.

"For every $25 raised with the Dominican Light Project on Indiegogo, five Dominicans will receive a solar lantern to provide them with a safe source of light. Each lantern provides 12 hours of bright, LED light per 6-8-hour charge and will also eliminate the health and fire risks associated with candles and kerosene lamps."