Light Up The World

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Implementing Sustainable Community-Based Solar Installations



Headquarters Calgary, Canada
Established 1997
Impact Areas Projects in 54 countries worldwide, regional office established in Peru in 2010
Type Non-profit
Energy Sectors
  • Power Source: Solar Power
  • Power Use: Off-Grid Lighting and Electricity
Business Model Types
Staff Size 5
Annual Budget $675,000
Major Funders The energy4everyone Foundation, Conoco Phillips
Awards 2002: CSTS Tech Museum Award, Rolex Award for Enterprise
2003: Saatchi & Saatchi Award for Innovation
2004: Emerald Awards, Reader’s Digest Canadian Hero of the Year, Calgary Signature Award, YMCA Calgary Peace Medal Award, ASTech Awards
2005: Time Magazine Canada’s Heroes, Meritorious Service Medal from the Governor General of Canada, Alberta Centennial Medal
2006: Champion of the Schulich School of Engineering Award, Degree of Doctor Honoris Causa from Aberdeen University, Community Service Award, University of Calgary Faculty Association,
2008: K. Y. Lo Medal of the Engineering Institute of Canad


Light Up The World designs and implements rural electrification projects around the world, with a focus on ensuring the long-term sustainability of installations.


Energy Products/Services

  • LUTW designs systems based on end user needs. Many systems that LUTW installs in small off-grid homes consist of a 10 Watt solar panel, a 12 volt-12 amp hour maintenance-free lead acid battery, three to four WLED lamps and an output for charging cell phones.

Target Market

  • Off-grid communities around the world
  • Current area of focus is the Andean region



Revenue Streams

  • Donor funding, Lighting Projects, institutional/strategic partner funding

Value Proposition

  • LUTW started out as a hardware organization, designing technologies and transferring their skills to local manufacturers in South Asia.
  • Over the years they have started sourcing hardware from others and focusing on designing effective distribution models.
  • One key element is ensuring that technical capacity is transferred to local partners and supply chains developed for parts so when maintenance is required people know what to do.
  • Projects are all donor funded but community contributions are always incorporated to cover maintenance.
  • LUTW facilitates field study programs, which provide key funding partners with a unique perspective on energy in the developing world.

Problem Addressed

  • A third of the world’s population (about a billion people) rely on fuel-based lighting.
  • For many, night falls early and the only source of light is in the form of kerosene lamps or wood fires.
  • Many parents work during the day and the only time left for schooling is in the evening.
  • Kerosene and wood fires provide poor lighting and produce noxious fumes.


Impact to Date

  • More than 28,000 lights (approximately 14,500 systems) installed in homes, clinics and community buildings in 54 countries
  • Sustainable local light production spinoffs built in Nepal and Sri Lanka
  • Estimated impact is 1 million people.
  • 1,568 systems installed in 2010 with 370,000 total beneficiaries.


  • 1997: LUTW helped to found Pico Power Nepal, which produces solar lights for NGO projects
  • 2000: Pico Power Nepal handed over to a local entrepreneur
  • 2002: LUTW created as a legal entity in Canada
  • 2005: LUTW trained local company to manufacture lights in Sri Lanka after the tsunami
  • 2009: Founder Dave Irvine Halliday creates a new hardware company, Visionary Lighting and Energy Pvt. Ltd, in Hyderabad, India
  • 2010: First field office opened in Peru

Growth Plan

  • LUTW is planning to open 2 regional offices in the next 4 years

How They Deliver

Product Sourcing

  • LUTW currently sources products from different companies to construct its custom designed solar PV systems.
  • Products are evaluated based on function, cost, longevity, quality and local availability.


  • LUTW designs and implements community-based installations of solar home systems with local partner NGOs who can maintain an on-the-ground presence
  • LUTW assesses the the needs and capabilities of the beneficiaries for each project and custom-designs  the project with an emphasis on maximum sustainability.
  • LUTW projects always include knowledge transfer to local technicians who can maintain and repair the systems and build in ongoing fees to cover these costs.
  • LUTW is starting to create regional offices to support its local partners, with the first one opened in Peru in October 2010.

Revenue & Affordability

  • LUTW’s projects are all commissioned and subsidized by donors but a community contribution is always built in so that the products are valued and to cover maintenance costs.
  • LUTW’s niche is working in off-grid areas that are not served by the market and where grid extension is deemed uneconomic in the foreseeable future.
  • They see the challenge of making off-grid lighting affordable as being much less in the cost of the products as in their delivery, i.e.  designing an appropriate business model , transferring the skills to maintain the products over time, and setting up the supply chain for parts; these are the foundations upon which private sector activities can take root.
  • Many projects around the world that have delivered systems to out-of-market areas without this emphasis on sustainability and after only a few years the systems were broken and useless.


LUTW is financed by donations, and strives to maintain a funding reserve to ensure organizational stability.


More Resources

Online Resources

Contact Information

Light Up The World
224-13 Avenue SW
Calgary, AB, Canada T2R 0K2

( +1 403 266 5004