The original social impact entrepreneur Benjamin Franklin said, “energy and persistence conquer all things.” And if there is anything we have learned while building our crowdfunding platform is that it takes a whole lot of energy and even more persistence to achieve what seems impossible – changing the life of someone in need. But as a technology-based company, energy means so much more. Without it we could have never raised over half a billion dollars from almost one million donors online, in just five short years. In fact, without energy… Charidy would cease to exist.
On any given day, you can find at least one of our 50 Charidy Team Members around the world – from the east and west coasts of the United States, to down under in Australia or Latin America, in the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia and Europe – tap, tap, tapping away on their laptop, desktop, mobile phone or tablet, talking with a client, designing a campaign logo or tinkering with our source code to keep the Charidy platform operating seamlessly no matter when, or for whom, the campaign countdown clock is ticking.
But according to the World Bank, over one billion people live without any form of electricity while hundreds of millions more live with limited or unreliable electricity. And universal access remains a challenge due to remote locations, infrastructure and maintenance, not to mention the role of political instability in those undeveloped regions which need energy the most. That’s why low cost and high efficiency solutions are key to penetrating poverty and diminishing the digital divide.
A healthy level of light for reading, for example, is set at around 300 lux (a term of luminescence measurement) for the average person. And without any light, getting simple tasks like homework done once the sun sets simply isn’t an option. And this can have a critical impact on education and graduation rates in low-income or no-income communities. Those living in extreme poverty in India, for example, typically use kerosene lamps which are not only toxic but extremely dim, giving off just one to six lux of light. And so the cycle of poverty continues.
A lack of energy also forces many Indian & Nepalese homes to run their makeshift kitchens on solid fuels and cookstoves which emit high amounts of air pollution – including carbon monoxide, hundreds of times the level considered safe for humans. Exposure to these toxic fumes can lead to respiratory infections and other chronic diseases – adding to the many difficulties faced by people living on a dollar or less a day. And even when there is access to medical care, in emergency situations, a doctor may not have a light to turn on to attend to a patient.
But the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), a series of benchmarks for making the world a better a place, has committed to world to ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030 (SDG 7).
Having worked with the United Nations on SDG 5 – supporting gender equity by reducing human trafficking with our United For Freedom Giving Day – we were excited to get working with Pollinate Energy and Empower Generation on a Charidy campaign to bring renewable energy solutions to those who need it most. And in just 24 hours we helped raise more then $65,000 (over $25,000 past their original goal) to support this impressive public-private partnership power and empower the people of India and Nepal.
Pollinate Energy provides solar lanterns, improved cookstoves, solar fans and water filters to families living in extreme poverty across India and Nepal. Having joined forces with Empower Generation, they are now working to reach over 4,000 families a month; recruit and train and support over 1,000 women to carry out their mission; and positively affect the lives of over one million people in India by 2020 (and they are already halfway towards their goal)!
Check out co-founder and CEO Alexie Seller’s discussing Pollinate Energy’s focus on women empowerment at the European Project Drawdown launch: