The 365 Ways Blog

Michael Norton is author of "365 Ways to Change the World", which provides an issue for each day of the year, interesting facts, inspiring case studies of people doing things to address the issue and ideas for action. Originally published in the UK, versions with local content have been published in Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and the USA. To find out more visit our website:

09 July 2007

The Mighty Light

Can you imagine a world without light? This was commonplace in bygone centuries; and it was to satisfy the demand form tallow to burn as candles that the whaling industry developed (see our last post).

But today, lighting is an essential for getting the most from our lives. In the developed world, any lack of light, due to a power outage or being cut off for non-payment, is normally felt as a temporary frustration. However, there are 1.6 billion less fortunate people who do not have access to a reliable electricity supply; for them a dimly lit world is a dark and permanent reality.

Cosmos Ignite was the brainchild of Matt Scott who was doing a postgraduate course at Stanford. He wanted to bring light to some of those 1.6 billion people, and he wanted to invest in providing a service to those at the “base of the pyramid”.

He set uo Cosmos Ignite Innovations to develop a super-bright LED solar powered light - which he calls the Mightylight, as a cost effective alternative to expensive-to-run, dangerous, polluting and harmful kerosene lamps.

Take a look at the Mightylight. It costs only $50. Why not buy one to use as your own torch? Or why donate one to a school or village library in Africa or India.

The Impact
For every lights, analysis predicts:
  • There will be $32 in life-time cost savings over kerosene
  • The user will benefit from $18 in additional income generation
  • It will provide 200 hours of extra education for a rural villager
  • There will be a 2% reduction in incidents involving serious burns. It will save lives. There will also be a significant reduction in respiratory illness and accidental fires.
  • There will be a saving of 30 tons in CO2 emissions
The Fortune at the Base of the Pyramid
Read about this thought provoking idea of delivering services to the very poor for profit, but changing their lives at the same time. The book is authored by C.K. Prahalad and Stuart L. Hart, and can be freely downloaded from


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