Bringing new solar solutions to empower communities

Scaling up artist-designed solar lamps and mobile chargers


Over 1.1 billion people in the world live in off-grid areas without electricity. In Sub-Saharan Africa, over 60% of the population is not connected to the grid. The challenges presented by this lack of access are widespread. Sustainable cooking, communication, access to health and information are only some of the issues that arise without consistent and accessible electricity. The situation is particularly critical for community health workers (CHWs) working and traveling in off-grid areas where challenges can be multiplied if mobile devices are hampered and health services impaired. CHWs represent a critically important part of the health care system particularly in countries with a severe shortage of doctors and limited resources for training and supervision.

How can GD support the social enterprise Little Sun and its Little Sun Foundation, established by artist Olafur Eliasson and engineer Frederik Ottesen, to raise global awareness about their empowering innovations and to develop new collaborative ventures to expand access to affordable solar lamps and mobile chargers? How can we help expand the reach of Little Sun’s products to community health workers in Sub-Saharan Africa, enabling them to use mobile devices and information technologies?

About half of the communities here have electricity at home and the other half do not, including me. The charger has really helped me to charge my phone and keep in contact with people, especially my pregnant women who can call me anytime as I rarely let the battery die out.
Staha Abass Mkanga-Uzini, Community Health Worker


Together with Little Sun we identified opportunities to raise awareness about the unequal distribution of energy with policymakers and at various United Nation’s platforms. We envisioned ways to expand partnerships within the health sector and especially with the community health workers in off-grid communities in Sub-Saharan Africa.

We facilitated relationships with the United Nations Foundation and its Sustainable Energy 4 All (SE4All) initiative. SE4All is a global multi-stakeholder platform which empowers partnerships and unlocks finance for universal access to sustainable energy.We catalyzed the Little Sun partnership with D-Tree International, an innovative non-profit fundamentally changing delivery of healthcare through digital technology and life-saving apps for health workers in the developing world.

At the intersection of energy and health, the partnership with D-Tree International enabled Little Sun to provide solar energy to community health workers in Zanzibar and in Tanzania where only 15% of the population is connected to the national electricity grid. We continue working with Little Sun and D-Tree International to expand market reach and raise awareness globally.


  • GD reinforced Little Sun’s global voice and reach by creating opportunities for innovative advocacy
  • Opened new market opportunities for Little Sun solar products in rural areas without electricity
  • Increased access to high quality solar chargers for health workers in East Africa, starting with D-Tree International in Zanzibar and Tanzania


Additional Resources:

About Little Sun

About D-Tree International

Giving Light, Giving Life 

Sunpowered Health


Images of Little Sun solar charges and solar lamps with communities in East Africa (Photo credits Little Sun and D-Tree International)