The new life-changing innovative solution to lift children out of energy poverty

Discover the product features, our design team’s process behind and the potential impact of our brand-new product, StudentBuddy.

In July 2022, something very exciting happened for SolarBuddy. We launched our brand-new product StudentBuddy. Equipped with an array of unique and purposeful features, StudentBuddy has the potential to illuminate many lives around the globe, and is unlike anything we’ve created before!

Working and living in the field, our CEO and Founder Simon Doble discovered another big problem for people experiencing energy poverty than just having access to safe and reliable lighting. That problem being that many people depend on using electronic devices daily, and energy is needed for their charging.

“What I found was that children, and most often girls, were forced to walk long distances to reach fossil fuel powered charging stalls. They were paying large amounts to charge their families’ devices,” Simon Doble said.

Classroom, Madagascar, 2018

“This took girls out of school, away from vital learning time, and into often dangerous situations.” He said.

From his first-hand field research, Simon knew there were a number of features that needed to be included in this new solar-powered innovation. The most important of those features is multiple, solar powered charging ports.

The potential impact to illuminate many more lives through StudentBuddy is very exciting. It will:

  • Allow children, especially girls, to study and spend longer in school, instead of travelling long distances to charge their families’ devices.

 

  • Prevent children from being in unsafe situations due to having to travel far from home for charging.

 

  • Redirect a family’s money spent at charging stalls into their children’s educational needs and for other essential household items like food and clothing.

 

  • Target one of the most important aspects of tackling climate change, enabling worldwide equal access to education for girls.

Understanding the design thinking

Overall, the design team at SolarBuddy had a goal to make this product useful, enjoyable and thoughtful, not only for the end users but also for the everyday Australian people who will assemble it.

It was equally important that these products were designed to last the test of time. They needed to be of strong, robust construction, both physically and electronically.

Two key factors helped drive the creation of an end product that will do just that;

  • Create a fully sustainable product

 

  • Create a product that could be serviced and repaired in the future

 

“Many products that we use today are purposefully designed in a way that they cannot be recycled or repaired.” Product Development & Design Lead, Issy Ward said.

“They are products that are ‘designed for obsolescence’, which creates tonnes of waste and negatively impacts the environment. This is certainly not the outcome we wanted for our new product StudentBuddy or for the communities we are sending them to,” she said.

Purposeful design has led to a product that solves an identified problem, and has a minimal effect on the environment. The aluminium components in StudentBuddy is 100% recycled, and all parts are replaceable. This ensures that one broken piece doesn’t result in the whole system becoming useless, and wasted.

We have also ensured that all components from the program are as reusable as possible, including the boxes they are sent in and items included inside.

Our team couldn’t be prouder to start illuminating lives with StudentBuddy and to see the extent of the impact with its rollout.

 

Want to get hands on with StudentBuddy?

High School STEM Program: https://www.solarbuddy.org/studentbuddy/ 

Corporate ESG Program: https://www.solarbuddy.org/programs/corporate-programs/studentbuddy/

SolarBuddy

SolarBuddy

SolarBuddy is an Australian impact organisation uniting a global community to illuminate the futures of children living in energy poverty.

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