d.light design

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Quality small-scale solar lighting products for the BOP



Headquarters: San Francisco, CA
Established:  2007
Impact Areas: 44 countries, including Haiti, Nigeria, Mozambique, Vanuatu, Pakistan, Colombia, and China.
Type:  For-Profit
Energy Sectors:
Business Model Types:
Staff Size:  60
Annual Budget: N/A
Major Funders: Omidyar Network, Acumen Fund, Gray Ghost, Nexus India Capital, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Garage Ventures, Mahindra Group, Shell Foundation, Calvert Foundation
Awards: 2008:GoingGreen Top 100 Winner, AlwaysOn Global 250 Winner
2009: Social Venture Network Innovation Award, Global Cleantech 100
2010: Ashden Award for Sustainable Energy, World Economic Forum Young Global Leader (founder Sam Goldman), BBC 100th Object in History of the World, Global Cleantech 100, Lighting Rural Tanzania, Design Week Best Consumer Product Design Award, Spark Award
2011: Shriver Awards (founder Sam Goldman), Forbes Top 30 Social Entrepreneurs, Spark Award for S1


d.light design develops quality, affordable, solar-powered lanterns for families with no access to reliable electricity


Energy Products/Services

  • 3-product line of solar Lanterns and chargers

Target Market

  • 1.6 billion off-grid customers, 630 million in Africa
  • Three target markets:
    • Rural households
    • Off-grid businesses
    • Off-grid schools


D.Light Design

Revenue Streams

  • Sale of solar products

Value Proposition

  • d.light develops low-cost durable solar lighting and mobile phone charging products, including the world’s cheapest solar lantern, the S1.
  • d.light also innovates distribution and consumer engagement solutions, and is one of the world’s best selling picosolar social enterprises.

Problem Addressed

  • Lack of affordable off-grid electricity across the developing world

Where They Are Now

Impact to Date

  • Over 1 million lanterns sold in 44 countries
  • Global carbon emissions reduced by 90,000 tons annually
  • Annual sales of US$6m



  • 2008: Initial product line launched
  • 2008: Receives $6M in Series A financing
  • 2009: Opens East Africa regional sales office
  • 2010: Receives $5M in Series B financing
  • 2010: Launches second generation of products

Growth Plan

  • 2015: Improve the quality of life of 50m people
  • 2020: Improve the quality of life of 100m people

How They Deliver

Product Sourcing & Design

  • d.light develops all its own products and begins the development process with deep field-based research into consumer needs.
  • All products are manufactured in China, managed by a Manufacturing and Production office based in Shenzhen.
  • d.light’s product design goals are: attractiveness and versatility, unmatched quality, durability and “extreme affordability.”


  • d.light sells through distribution partnerships with existing organizations, including microfinance networks, urban gasoline and rural liquid propane distributor, and NGOs.
  • d.light also trains distribution partners in consumer education and product demonstration and provides a 1 year warranty on all products.

Revenue & Affordability

  • d.light puts great emphasis on making its products extremely low-cost, with its least expensive light, the S1, selling for around US$8.
  • d.light has also developed the Give Light program, through which it connects individual donors with NGOs who donate d.light products to customers who cannot afford to buy them.


  • d. Light is financed primarily through equity, from both traditional venture investors and social impact investors, but has also received loan and grant financing.


  • d.light scales by finding new distribution partners in new locations.

Social Impact

  • d.light measures impact based on number of products sold, but has also studied the impact of each product.
  • Customers have reported monthly income increases of 30-50% after product purchase based on extended workday and reduced kerosene usage.

S250 Lantern

Description:The S250 is d.light’s flagship product, providing light and mobile phone charging from an attachable solar panel. The panel charges a battery built into the lamp, which is used to either produce light or charge a phone.  The S250 battery can also be charged through the grid with a standard Nokia charger.

The S250 lamp provides up to 10 times more light than a kerosene lantern, as much as a 3-5W CFL lamp.  Its LED is designed to last over 30 years at 4 hours/day.  The light has four different brightness settings, high, medium, low, and bed.  It is waterproof for outdoor use.

The S250 comes with a set of mobile phone adapters which are compatible with most phones in its target markets.  It can charge a mobile phone to 80% capacity in one hour.

How It’s Used:

Lighting households and small shops to extend workdays and decrease spending on kerosene, charging mobile phones, increasing students’ study time and test scores.

Product Type:

Self-Sufficient Portable

Technical Data

Lumens/Watt:  N/A
Average Lamp Power and type: N/A
Battery Capacity and type: NiMH 2A 1500mah 3.6 volt
Hours Runtime/Charge: 4-100 hours
Charging Hours from Flat:  9
Lumens: 250
Lumen-hours/year@4hr/day:  367,920
Service Delivered (lm.hr/$): ~36,792
Kerosene Service Delivered (lm.hr/$):  872

Cost Data

Number of Households Served  1
Upfront Cost
Estimated Retail Price:  $35-50
Recurring Costs
 Replaceable Products Life(years) Replacement Costs
Battery  ~4 ~$12
5-year Replacement Costs  ~$15
5-year Ownership Cost  ~$50-65

Social Impact

More Resources

Online Resources

Contact Information

d.light design
The Maybeck Building, Studio 4
1736 Stockton St.
San Francisco CA 94133

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