There's a new crowdfunding campaign currently seeking backers, and it might just have the most ambitious funding goal we've ever seen. The organisation behind it is setting out to supply solar lanterns, not just to a village, region or state, but to a whole entire country.
Started just two weeks ago, and already at an impressive sum of over 6000 USD, the campaign, known as The Dominican Light Project and run by local social enterprise Esenciales J.S. SRL, is aiming to supply solar lamps to, yes, you guessed it, the entire Dominican Republic. While the vast majority of the Caribbean country lives with access to electricity, blackouts are said to be common, and these unreliable supplies mean that many are plunged into dark after sunset. After food, shelter and water, light is one of humankind's most basic human needs, and many people in the Dominican Republic are having to go without, or having to rely on polluting and expensive kerosene lamps and candles after the sun goes down, which according to the organisation, can cost some low income earners up to 25 per cent of their salary.
It sounds like, and is, a very ambitious project, but the project leaders are convinced that for roughly 5 USD per inhabitant, they will be able to supply a reliable, clean and efficient solar light source to those Dominicans who currently have to rely on more dangerous and expensive options. The lamps provide 12 hours of light and can be charged during the day. The project leaders have already carried out smaller-scale projects in a number of Dominican villages, and their crowdfunding campaign tells the story of a boy who, thanks to his new solar lamp, now takes an hour less to get to school because he doesn't get lost in the dark on the way, and whose marks at school have improved because now he doesn't have to do his homework on the bus but can do it at home in the evenings instead.
While solar energy can be used in many things, from powering solar ovens to constructing entire solar roads, it is simple projects like this that really demonstrate the power of solar to help end the cycle of poverty for individuals. As the organisers of the campaign say on their website:
Providing access to light is a building block towards prosperity. We will protect the health of children by eliminating kerosene fumes; give peace and security to families both at home and on the streets; most importantly we will provide light to children to study with and give them a chance to break the chain of poverty.
For a country with over nine million inhabitants, the cost of supplying the whole country with solar lamps is thought to be around 26 million USD, but to make things easier the Indiegogo campaign has been set up with a flexible funding goal, and the page is showing the more attainable objective of raising 10,000 USD - enough to serve roughly 2000 families - which can be increased as time goes on.
Crowdfunding campaigns have become somewhat of a trend in recent years, so much so that it can be hard for projects looking for funds to come up with a gimmick that will spark the public's attention and set themselves apart from the rest. This kind of never-seen-before, huge-scale campaign is certainly something that has got people talking. We'll just have to wait and see whether it gets them reaching for their wallets too.
To support the project with an extra financial boost, visit their Indiegogo crowdfunding page, and for more information about the project before you part with your cash, check out the video below.