It’s Not Just Solar, It’s Modern Energy For Millions Across Africa

Off.Grid:Electric uses solar to light the homes of families typically making $1-$4 per day. The average house who switches from kerosene lanterns to Off.Grid immediately receives 50x the light they had before at a cost lower than they were previously paying. Off.Grid:Electric is electrifying over 1000 homes per month.

Our goal is to not just light a room, but to light the whole home. Tweet This Quote

Lighting solutions are critical for girls to be able to study at night, as they often have to help their families with work during the day. Off.Grid has seen an average of 2.5X increase in study hours for girls in homes that have modern electric light.

This post is part of a series profiling ventures in first accelerator program dedicated to impacting the lives of millions of girls in poverty. For more information on the program, check out the Girl Effect Accelerator website.

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  • Colin Drake

    ‘Do it 50x better’…seems like they’re on the right track. I’m impressed.

  • Jack Strader

    Sounds like another great idea that has multiple levels of ingenuity and purpose. Solar power is such a sustainable and economically safe choice that it’s no surprise that Off.Grid.Electric had success without even having to market. There must have been some serious word of mouth.

  • Katie Larson

    I totally agree, the fact that Off.Grid.Electric had huge success is becuase it offers an undeniably practical service. This enterprise shows that through genuine thought and research about your target market and their needs, a service or product can be created that represents all aspets of sustainability.

  • Erin Todd

    I agree. I think solar energy is the new idea and step towards changing the world and the way we use energy. More importantly, it can be the way to reach households that do not have the usual means of energy. Again, this topic is so powerful but it kind of fizzles out when they loosely tie in girls studying at night. If they are going to do the girl effect, girls should be the core of the discussion, not a side note..

  • storres001

    I agree, in the last few videos, girls have been a side note or second thought when this whole accelerator is supposed to focus on how we can help girls. They have all the economic aspects of this down but how are they going to handle say situations of fathers and sons using the light before their daughters because thats how it is culturally? We can provide the means for these girls to succeed, but if the culture does not change how are the products going to reach the girls?

  • sadeakindele

    I agree, the ideas in the past few videos have been ingenious and can do a lot of good. I’m just not seeing how it really ties into the uplifting of girls. They seem to be equally beneficial for all it’s users which is great, just a little off topic…

  • karnold001

    I agree, I would love some background information on how this affordable and safe light source benefits girls more than the rest of the family. It is amazing how fast this idea spread just by using word of mouth marketing, which only adds to my belief that this benefits the entire community and not strictly girls.

  • kbell003

    I agree that this is a great idea and I think that his mission was more to focus on women rather than girls. In many developing countries such as this, the women will make all of the decisions for the house, so their idea was to make the woman have an easier choice. I understand that since the segment is girl effect it should be how to help girls more, but at the same time I think that this still fits into the category. Without the moms there would be no girls and even when there are girls in the family, not all will have the opportunity to make it out of where they live. So why not make it an easier choice for women in the town on what to do to light their home so that girls in the future will have an easier way to light their future homes and also live longer because they are not taking in the toxic fumes from the gasoline every time they turn on a light.

  • Matthew Montoya

    I think that this is an incredible idea, and I am very impressed by just how quickly this idea has been able to spread across sub-Saharan Africa and will continue to do so! The speaker made a statement that stood out to me when he mentioned that the poor people are highly risk averse because they have so much to lose. I had never really thought about how your financial circumstances could halt your ability to implement an idea, but in the context that if the idea were to fail would drastically effect you and the ones you love is absolutely true. I love these ideas because they ultimately give the people in need the ability to perhaps one day not fear implementing ideas of their own due to fear of the repercussions of a failed one. Being in a position where I can openly take risk without extreme repercussion is a real privilege. It inspires to me think about others and their situations and understand that their situations affect them but do not define them. We should be working to help these people reach their true potentials and break the limitations of their circumstances. This is precisely what this organization is doing, and I hope more organizations adopt this idea and genuinely serve those who have the potential to change the world if they are given a chance!

  • dannyjoseph14

    It is really cool to see how fast and wide this innovation has spread just by word of mouth marketing. I was shocked to hear how many people live off-the-grid and of the harmful health dangers of kerosene lanterns. This seems like it is a very practical and sustainable solution to the issue. The adoption rate due to word of mouth is so high, imagine what some inexpensive mass marketing would do to sales.

  • kt_ford

    I agree that it is amazing how fast just word of mouth marketing has impacted this project. I also wonder how many people would learn about it and want to get it if there was some inexpensive marketing. I think it is really sad that people are risking their lives and harming themselves just to get light for an hour. I think this project is very important and more people need to learn about it, so others can help continue to make this project successful.

  • kgallaher

    I found Off.Grid: Electric to be another innovative idea. I am really interested in the use of solar power, especially since it is much more beneficial to families in need. I would have liked to learn more about how this affects girls. The fact that Off.Grid is taking girls into consideration is a great start.

  • Halea McAteer

    It’s amazing how fast Off.Grid: Electric was able to spread simply from word of mouth. I think this not only shows how great of a product they really have, but also how the people involved with this business really have taken into account the people whom they are serving and their needs. It is far too common that when it comes to less privileged countries, we never take into account things that the citizens might actually want or need.
    This is a great example of not only great business practices by knowing ones target audience and their needs, but also a more ethical one in that the product is something these people have actual use for in their life.

  • Seph56

    I love this idea! today we talked about a company’s targrt market and psychographic of demographics and I think Off.Grid: Electric offers a greatly beneficial and successful service for their ‘targets’. I believe it is a great leap to changing the world and I love their vision of expanding their solar energy to 10 millions homes. im impressed by the way their product spread without a dime spent on marketing! way to make their own blue ocean. hoping for nothing but great things for this company. love their passion to help the people off the grid. glad they were able to come up with something that didnt affect their health like the kerosene and that is way more efficient and inexpensive.

  • Seph56

    exactly! spreading their product just by word of mouth is way impressive!

  • Seph56

    I agree, they should have emphasized more on the girls need for their products. good question about their culture as well, how can you change something that cannot be changed? or something that does not want to change?

  • kschwein

    This idea is great and although it was only spread by word of mouth I think this project could be unreal if marketed properly. This could change the energy world and start us going in a better direction than we have been in the past.

  • John Mulhern

    What an innovative concept. I’m extremely impressed and encouraged by the influential work being done here. The solar energy sector is just waiting to be tapped into and to approach from just an ethical and really brilliant way has my support.

  • Gaby Perez

    This is a brilliant innovation! So great that it caught on by word of mouth marketing, which at times is really hard to do. What really surprised me was that before Off.Grid: Electric came to be, girls were using a method that endangered their lives, as the spoke person said, “it was as if they were smoking two packs of cigarettes a day.” So even when they were trying to do better by studying, they were only making their health worse. I think that this product is amazing because it is cutting the risk of both health and educational deference by a lot. I really hope this keeps going in Tanzania and other countries as well.

  • dbickel

    Very wonderful idea. After seeing how it spread from home to home in the video I wouldnt be surprised if we began to see entire solar communities. Entire communities that rely on a combination of sources such as solar and wind power (possibly geothermal and hydropower as well). It would market itself. In this community energy is free and unlimited. I think ideas like this are even applicable in our home country. Take tract housing (cookie-cutter housing) for example, place neighborhoods like these surrounding small solar and wind farms. I think Americans would pay a little more money upfront for a house knowing they’ll never pay an electricity bill again. Oh, and saving the planet. One other thing I would ask is where the energy is coming from? Don’t get me wrong, I love his solution to this problem but, in my opinion, being sustainable includes having a locally centralized energy source. Is that the case here? If so, my question then becomes, where is the revenue generated from? Again, wonderful idea, bringing a great solution to a region that has an energy problem with seemingly zero risk.

  • rschneider2800

    I think the scale of this project is incredible. I’ve seen smaller projects before with the same mission; Jimmy Fallon had a girl who invented a flashlight that was powered by the heat of your hand on one of his shows. The scale of this project and the timeline is just amazing though. Also, I think this is an important lesson on human behavior that most forget. You could have a product that is a million times better but if it isn’t like what we are use to using, we probably won’t get it.

  • Mallory Benham

    I think this idea is incredible and will do wonders for the Sub-Saharan Africa. It is a small step towards a bigger goal. The fact that this concept was spread by word of mouth just shows how necessary and beneficial this product will be for these people.

  • l2yza

    Possible side benefit of this is if it eliminates kerosene as a light source in the long run, jet fuel might be cheaper in the future due to a less demanding market for it. Meaning (hopefully) cheaper airline tickets.

  • whwatkin

    Solar power is the future. Its the most renewable power source we have at our disposal. And in the future everyone on the planet will be using solar power

  • Ryan

    One of the often neglected aspects of solar power is the necessity of fossil fuels, precious metals and other irreplaceable resources in the construction process of the solar panels and converters. I’m curious to see how these issues are addressed.

  • Mdraymore

    It’s extremely impressive that they took solar energy, which is considered a long term investment to save money in most situations, and made it a service for impoverished people. Additionally, the fact that the company is spreading so quickly without spending money on marketing is impressive, and shows the importance of word of mouth. However, I’m curious how the company actually works. Do they install panels on the houses? What do they do with the energy no being used by the family’s?

  • caro5039

    I think that providing solar power to “off the grid” families is a great way to begin to get these families on the grid. I really admire that the motive behind this company was too bring better health to families in Tanzania. But I’m still a little confused on how the solar energy will be distributed? There must be construction involved. Also, how are payments for this service going to be received an monitored?

  • GSonDUBS

    Solar power is the way to go. I don’t understand why they are only focusing on ‘Off-grid”? The whole world can benefit from solar power. Why can’t they just come up with a Solar system that will fit all?

  • jsims001

    The fact that sitting next to a kerosene lantern is the equivalent of smoking two packs of cigarettes a day is dumbfounding. I knew that it was unhealthy, but not to this extent. This is a serious problem that this company is addressing. The fact that women are hesitant to take risks due to the possible consequences of making a mistake, especially in terms of technology, makes this solar “SERVICE” perfect for solving the kerosene problem. The company gives these people 50 times more than what they were originally paying for to light not just one room, but the entire house. Not only is this clean, affordable lighting, it’s providing these people with opportunity, hope, and security, especially mothers and children. As a marketing major, the fact that the company didn’t have to spend a penny on marketing shows how much of an affordable solution they have to offer most of the impoverished world. Way to be Off.Grid!!!

  • amandaclaire94

    I really liked this idea. To relate to a speech I heard, guerrilla marketing is very important for a business and they have succeeded in not spending a dime in marketing and have been able to spread their services. I hope they they are able to continue helping families light their homes, because I couldn’t even imagine having a kerosene lamp. It sounds cliche but we are so fortune to be able to switch on our lights and use electricity whenever we want. I just can’t believe 1 billon people live off the grid!

  • conner_faulkner

    Amazing idea! Other companies are doing similar things across the globe (i.e. making solar lamps) but this service lights the whole home. This is different than the simple single light source that other companies have… I’m happy to see change like this in the world.

  • GSonDUBS

    It sounds like this company is doing much better than what other companies are doing. They are lighting up the WHOLE house instead of just a SINGLE light, but at the same time, he never mentioned how much money they are charging for the service. He only mentioned they are paying the same amount as before.

  • fkrutsky

    I also never realized that just switching the way you light up a room could possibly be a risk to an entire family. For this company to provide a no risk solution, there would be no reason not to try this product especially if the kerosene being used is making them sick. I also agree that later on after trying something new and having it better the lives in a community, they will be open to trying other new ideas as well. The lack of resources is probably the cause to why they were hesitant to implement a new idea. With companies like this one, that can all change when new recourses that actually work are brought in.

  • joconne4

    I have always thought that solar energy made the most sense on an individual basis for supplying homes with energy. Each home generating its own power would make things so much easier on energy infrastructure all around the world. The problem I wonder about is how variable it is in different areas. Maybe someday soon, solar panels will be way more efficient with less space. As it stands now though some places may not get reliable amounts of sunlight, or have the space to accommodate the amount of panels necessary. The more work put into efficiency and miniaturization the better.

  • JakeEllis7

    I believe it is just a matter of time before solar panels are used everywhere. The big issue I keep seeing though is the cost of them. Hopefully within the next 5 or less years it will be more affordable for everyone to go solar and then we will be able to see the savings with them sooner than later. Personal solar energy would be an amazing change throughout the world.

  • Jessica Andrew

    Thank you for sharing this video! I really like this idea! It is affordable for people to have this product. If someone ends up not working, then it is the company’s fault, not the families fault. This could effect the family if the light didn’t work and they spent some time and money to use this product. They are lighting up the whole house not just one room which is amazing! It was sad to hear that people were getting headaches and not feeling good just because they need light. It was like smoking two packs of cigarettes a day while sitting next to a light that they needed which is crazy! This product will go a long way and it will help many people.

  • Brad Moule

    Absolutely amazing

    The idea that they are promoting health by providing safe energy is fa-nominal. I hope they are able to hit their goal of 10 million in ten years. It amazes me that they are able to light a whole house for about
    $4 a day.

  • jvlewis1

    I love this idea because people in Africa can study better and pout back into their communities. I also like how they chose to go Tanzania instead of the common counties in Africa like Nigeria, Sierre Leone, Chad, etc.

  • Brooke Bower

    I love the fact that this idea promotes a healthier lifestyle compared to the old ways that they would light their homes. I was shocked to hear that it was the same thing as smoking two packs a day. This solar lighting sounds like a great option for these people, and I love that it’ll help girls be able to study and do their work at night. Not only does it light their homes at the same or less cost but it’ll also help girls succeed in school. I tend to take for granted the simple things such as lighting. I don’t think twice to turn on my light. This is a great product, and I hope they’re able to light ten million homes in ten years.

  • rewebster3

    I honestly have had no idea as to the ramifications of using kerosene and the health effects it has on those sharing the same atmosphere, I suppose that having had electricity literally my entire life and not having to worry about not having it or having to use an alternate source that would be harmful to the longevity of my life. Creating a system that would give people a resource that costs little to nothing and is in their best interest is just life changing.

  • LindsayDages

    I am amazed that this solution can give more light than the kerosene lamps and for a similar cost as well. It is encouraging to hear about these types of stories…and think how many other amazing solutions there are out there for other problems we have today. I am curious how the service works. If a family can buy increments of this solar energy is there a device that they purchase to “fil up” with energy? Is it a onetime purchase? Do the houses have to meet certain guidelines in order to receive this service?

  • Mabel

    The concept that the idea proposes is fantastic! it gives the lighting capacity that would not be available given the family’s economic situation . The part i like the most is that they are utilizing the natural power of the sun. They are not constructing something that will harm the environment.

  • awither1

    This is such a great idea. It promotes a healthier lifestyle and gives faith that there are better alternatives in the world that we can benefit from as well.

  • Alexa A Dralle

    What a beautiful idea! Not only is this a safer alternative, but it is also cheaper, and though it’s cheaper, it works better. That is an idea that is going to spread more and more. Stories like this make me so happy, it is so very important that we help those in need. Nobody should have to live in such a dangerous environment.

  • DallasJMills

    Great idea and a great cause! The graphic he showed about how the solar has spread in the region they are selling it wowed me, he definitely has something that he can take and implement all over the globe.

  • DavidMizelle1

    I’m interested in the service aspect of this idea (the concept that solar isn’t a product but rather a service). In addition to the risk aversion for many of these people I would imagine that start up cost would be one as well. Does this idea that they are providing solar as a “service” mean that these people incur no start up cost (for example set up and installation of solar panels)? Also, does this service encompass more than just fixing something in the system should it break? Do they come in and replace light bulbs, as well? If not, how sustainable is the idea since I doubt many people don’t have the ability to easily purchase replacement bulbs. Think it’s a really cool idea and should help a lot of people if it is executed correctly.

  • Abby2017

    I know that we use a ton of electricity in our houses. Sometimes we don’t even realize how much electricity we use. We turn on a light and then walk out of the room and forget it is on. We waste so much electricity by doing that. There are many ways that there is to get light.


    This is such an excellent concept. I think the fact that Off.Grid: Electric provides a better service for the same, if not less of, the cost people were paying before for kerosene is crucial. Clearly the work they do speaks for itself if no marketing was done and the company was able to grow so much. This provides safer lighting for not only families, but the environment as well. Great video!

  • Lauren Schlicht

    This is such an amazing idea…its so sad to have learned that kerosene is the only way so many girls have access to light in order to study. I didn’t even realize how harmful the risks were to using kerosene to light up a house! This concept has the ability to not only improve the health of families but also gives them something to look forward to. It gives more access to girls when it comes to them wanting to be able to come home from school and study, now, in a safe way. I am very impressed!

  • Lauren Schlicht

    I feel like electricity is another thing we really take for granted. I’m guilty of leaving the light on in a room thats not occupied by anyone and its a shame because not only am I wasting electricity, I’m wasting money. I’ve become very much more aware of turning lights off when I walk out of a room! Its something everyone should try and become more conscious of!

  • Lauren Schlicht

    & not only are they providing a service that is efficient it is also cheap! I was so shocked to see how well this service has taken off…like you said, with little to no marketing the company grew so quickly and hopefully will continue to grow! Not only is this service a wonderful idea it also is a healthier option compared to what was being used before.