by Jessica Shankleman

LIGHT BULB MOMENT

Charity AIDS African lamp users

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Bloomberg's charitable arm has invested R51m in Little Sun, a social enterprise that distributes solar lamps across Africa to help reduce communities' dependency on polluting kerosene lamps.
Bloomberg Philanthropies confirmed that it has provided a low-interest loan to Little Sun, which will be used to help expand its reach to homes, schools and businesses across the developing world.


Michael Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies, said the investment would help Little Sun achieve its aim of replacing kerosene lamps, while saving money and reducing health risks for consumers.
"Too many families are forced to breathe in toxic kerosene fumes because they don't have access to electricity," he said. "Solar-powered lights can improve their health and at the same time, protect our environment by keeping pollutants out of the air they breathe.

"Little Sun is bringing clean, safe, affordable light to people who don't have it today."
Little Sun sells portable LED solar-powered lamps to communities in Zimbabwe, Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Senegal, Ethiopia, and South Africa through local entrepreneurs. The lamps are offered at a price aimed to be low enough to encourage uptake, but high enough to provide a profit to local retailers.

The lamps are designed by artist Olafur Eliasson and engineer Frederik Ottesen and promise a battery life of three years, as well as water resistance. The programme was launched in 2012, at London's Tate Modern, where the lamps are also sold at a higher price than to off-grid African communities.

Felix Hallwachs, Little Sun managing director and chief executive, said access to clean, safe and sustainable energy is "a fundamental human right."
"Today, seven out of 10 people lack access to even the most basic electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa," he said in a statement."Over the next 20 years, Africa is poised to hold the world's largest un-electrified population.
"The impact investment from Bloomberg Philanthropies will help us reach our goal of providing clean energy to homes, schools and local businesses, replacing toxic kerosene lamps everywhere we work."

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