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Improving Maternal Health Care Using Solar-Powered Technologies



Headquarters Berkeley, CA, USA
Established 2009
Impact Areas Sub-Saharan Africa, Haiti, Southeast Asia
Type Non-profit
Energy Sectors
  • Power Source: Solar Power
  • Power Use: Powering Specialized Products and Services
Business Model Types
  • Product Sourcing: Self-Design, Foreign Manufacture, Uniform Product
  • Distribution: Contract sales
  • Affordability: Instituional (B2B) Sales
  • Organization Financing: Grants and Donations
  • Scaling: New Contracts
  • Social Impact: Scope / Number Reached
Staff Size 6 staff members and 6 volunteers
Annual Budget $700,000
Major Funders MacArthur Foundation, UBS Optimus Foundation, Blum Center for Developing Economies, UCB Bixby Center for Population, Health and Sustainability, Segal Family Foundation, MacFarlane Family Foundation
  • 2009: NY Times “Half the Sky” Competition
  • 2010: Global Social Venture Competition, Social Impact Assessment Winner, CBS-5 Jefferson Public Service Award, UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Award for Civic Engagement, Ashoka Changemakers’ “Healthy Mothers. Strong World Competition Winner, CITRIS Big Ideas, Pop Tech Fellowship
  • 2011: Jefferson Public Service Silver Medalist, Elle Magazine Do-Gooders Award, Santa Clara CSTS Tech Awards Nokia Health Award


WE CARE Solar provides solar electric kits for medical lighting and communication that are reliable, robust, and low-cost, enabling timely and appropriate emergency care in maternal health facilities and settings without reliable electricity.

Use of WE CARE’s solar electric systems have dramatically lowered maternal mortality in field tests.

Energy Products/Services

  • Solar Suitcase

Target Market

  • Off-Grid Clinics
  • Off-Grid patients



Revenue Streams

  • Grants
  • Eventual sales of solar suitcases

Problem Addressed

  • Maternal mortality worldwide accounts for more than 530,000 deaths a year; 99% of these occur in Africa and Asia, where over 300,000 health care facilities lack reliable electricity.
  • Doctors and midwives struggle to provide obstetric care– often relying on candles or kerosene lanterns.
  • Patients fail to obtain timely care, obstetric surgeries are delayed or conducted under grossly suboptimal conditions, and the consequences are often tragic.
  • When birth complications occur, mothers and babies can be saved if health facilities have reliable lighting, mobile communication, and electricity to power medical devices.


Impact to Date

  • Over 110 solar suitcases have been introduced to health facilities in 14 countries to date. Each facility provides care for between 200 and 2000 mothers a year.
  • After pilot solar installation in Nigerian hospital, maternal deaths decreased and obstetric admissions increased. In rural clinics, health workers report improved safety and increased access to maternity care.


  • 2008: WE CARE formed to spearhead a solar electric installation in large Nigerian state hospital
  • 2008: First portable solar electric kit utilized for six months by Nigerian hospital staff
  • 2009: Suitcase size systems deployed in several African health clinics and hospitals, including Millennial Village in Nigeria
  • 2010: Solar Suitcases to post-earthquake Haiti for medical relief efforts, as well as to Tibet, Burma, and Tanzania
  • 2010: MacArthur Foundation funder solar suitcase research and development
  • 2011: 20 Solar Suitcases to Liberia for clinical research project with WHO and Liberian Institute for Biomedical Research
  • 2011: 36 Solar Suitcases to hospitals and clinics in Northern Nigeria

Growth Plan

  • Optimize suitcase design based on rigorous field testing.
  • Establish distribution and training partnerships with large NGOs and national governments.
  • Create manufacturing partnership to gain economies of scale.
  • Establish revenue base that makes their core activities sustainable and enables them to reach target markets in 3 continents (by 2015).

More Resources

Online Resources

Contact Information

P.0. Box 5765
Berkeley, California, 94705

* +1 510 219 7044
( laura@wecaresolar.org