“The charity model as we know it today is not a sustainable model for the future if we, as a global community, are going to create meaningful and significant impact.”

Simon Doble - Founder & Global CEO

Our innovations

Our CEO and Founder Simon Doble, an inventor by craft and humanitarian at heart, formulated SolarBuddy with a core need to redefine the way charities do business – shifting away from competition and towards collaboration.

Having already identified the enormity of energy poverty, how it affects so many, and conceptualising the products which could offer solutions, Simon wanted to create his own charity that could leverage the power of working with others towards a common goal, utilising United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #17 – Partnerships for the Goals to achieve Goal #7 – Affordable and Clean Energy for All.

Simon had a vision of SolarBuddy, and the future of all charities globally, as being looked upon like businesses in any other industry – driven by innovative production and achieving its goals through mutually beneficial partnerships that create the greatest impact for those that need it most.

It is because of this vision that we, since our formation in 2016, can call ourselves a self-sustaining charity. We have a model that does not hang on being awarded a crucial grant or beneficiary, but on our own innovative nature to find new solutions to the energy poverty problem, and through leveraging other organisations, as well as everyday Australian people to achieve our mission.

We see SolarBuddy as a bridge to connect and educate our children, community and partners here in Australia, who may not fully understand the harsh reality of living in energy poverty, with NGO partners on the ground overseas who do. We act to connect these groups to ultimately deliver our tangible lighting solutions, assembled by people like you through our education and corporate programs, straight into the hands of the children and communities that need them most.

2011
Time Magazine Article
Simon reads Time magazine article on energy poverty, purchases and moves into a humanitarian tent for a month to experience the reality of having no access to clean and reliable energy.
2012
First Prototype
Invents and designs a power pole prototype for humanitarian tents and pitches design to UNHCR in Geneva, after realising children in refugee camps were dying at alarming rates from kerosene burns.
2013
The Pilot
Pilots “PowerPole” invention and installs first ever solar street lights in refugee camps.
2014
UNHCR relief kits
Pushes for solar lights to be included are a core relief item in UNHCR disaster relief kits, not giving up until his mission is completed.
2015
SolarBuddy
Conceives the idea of SolarBuddy and how to connect Australian communities with communities living in energy poverty through education with innovative design for social good.
2016
JuniorBuddy is launched

The world’s first and only LED solar light that can be assembled by a child as young as 7 years old, with the purpose of enabling children on our shores to directly impact the lives of people living in energy poverty for the better by assembling a light.

2016
Humanitarian focused
Rejects an offer to commercialise JuniorBuddy for retail purposes in order to be able to keep the intellectual property and continue using the product for humanitarian purposes.
2021
StudentBuddy launches

Launches StudentBuddy, a more advanced product for high school aged children and adults to assemble, that provides not only lighting, but charging solutions also.

JuniorBuddy

JuniorBuddy was created at the formation of SolarBuddy. Simon, having seen the issue of energy poverty first hand in his three years living across Africa, designed the product with children in mind, being the next generation to lead and drive change. Simon, seeing the world through the eyes of a child, realised children living in energy poverty were missing something that so many of us grew up with as such an important part of our childhood, a bedside table light. That lamp was the reason our parents could connect with us through bedtime storytelling and passing on of traditions.

Holes allow string to be tied through, enabling the light to be worn if needed for safety.

Long lasting and easily replaceable batteries, to extend the lifecycle of the light for a long term solution.
Intuitively designed to enable young children to understand and operate easily, replace their own batteries and become familiar with solar light.
Durable plastic casing can withstand exposure to water and sunlight, prolonging the lifespan and impact of the light.

Multi-purpose handle allows light to be hung from ceiling, used for focused study time, as a lamp to light up a room, or held for safety walking at night.

Many of the communities we deliver JuniorBuddies to depend on walking to town for clean drinking water and sanitisation. The effects of Covid-19 meant this was not a possibility for millions, so we innovated our yellow transport buckets to be equipped with two water filters – providing children up to 20,000 litres of fresh drinking water to drink and wash their hands with. Our buckets are also reusable in order to be sustainable and reduce waste.

The Impact

Since launching, 155,000 JuniorBuddies have been gifted to the hands of children across the globe, providing safe and reliable lighting to and impacting 755,000 lives in total.

The impact does not stop at just providing reliable indoor lighting, each and every JuniorBuddy light also:

  • Allows the child receiving the light to study 78% longer, improving their educational outcomes
  • Reduces exposure to toxic and dangerous fumes which has the potential to increase overall health of women and children by up to 60%
  • Reduces a family’s average weekly expenditure on kerosene by 80%, improving the family’s financial security and safety
  • Offsets 1.28 tonnes of CO2 over 10 years, the equivalent to growing 21.3 tree seedlings over the same period
ktf-drinkingwater

“When re-visiting a family in Papua New Guinea after gifting them a JuniorBuddy light, I was touched to hear from a mother that her husband was going out hunting and fishing at night far less, but spending more time with her children, sharing stories around the light."

Simon Doble

beforelightafterlight

A child after switching from kerosene to a JuniorBuddy light to study after dusk, Madagascar 2018.

StudentBuddy

Working and living in the field, Simon identified another problem. This problem was that energy is not only needed for vital lighting, but also the charging of mobile devices. He found that people, and often girls, were forced to walk long distances to reach charging stalls that run on fossil fuel powered generators and cost large amounts. This meant that girls were often being put in dangerous situations, and their time spent in education at school was being taken away. As a result, StudentBuddy was created.
All parts are replaceable, making this a permanent energy solution for households, and the aluminium components are 100% recyclable, meaning no waste is being dumped in communities after use.

There are attachment brackets that allow for installation in various places around the home, for multiple family members to use in different ways, and in the community so the device can be shared for greater impact

There are two charging ports which means family members no longer need to walk long distances or use fossil fuel powered generators for charge their devices.

Along with the standard low and high LED light modes, there is an additional torch lighting setting to provide lighting and safety for walking around at night.

Our StudentBuddies needed to come with a tool case to reduce the risk of damage or loss of the tools and spare parts sent to users. In line with our goal to be conscious designers at every level, we partnered with environmentally conscious organisation Rewilder.

They design cases that are robust enough for repeated use, and are created using previously discarded materials, upcycling them into new products, like our StudentBuddy tool cases.

The Impact

A StudentBuddy device not only provides the same lighting benefits of a JuniorBuddy, but allows for the charging of devices. This has the impact of:

  • Allow children, especially girls, to study and spend longer in school, instead of travelling long distances for charging their essential devices
  • Prevent children, and especially girls, from being in potentially unsafe situations due to having to travel far from home for charging, improving their well-being.
  • Redirect money spent at supermarkets to charge devices to cater for children’s educational needs and for other essential household uses like food and clothing
  • Equal access to education for girls is the 6th most important aspect of tackling climate change.

Do you want to have a hand in delivering these products to children living in energy poverty? You can.

We are formulated on a vision for children helping children. That’s why we’ve developed curriculum aligned programs that allow school aged children to assemble our products, to be delivered directly from them to a child living in energy poverty overseas.

Our corporate programs allow you to boost your CSR through a partnership with purpose, allowing your team to take part in a JuniorBuddy or StudentBuddy build.

 

Even just a simple donation goes towards the assembly and distribution of our innovative solar light solutions, lifting a child and their family out of energy poverty, transforming their life for the better.

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