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Bloomberg Philanthropies Invests $5 million in Africa’s Little Sun Solar Powered Lamps

The philanthropic trust endowed by known environmentalist and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has invested $5 million in solar powered lamp developer Little Sun.

Little Sun, a solar powered Eco friendly lamp designed to help Africans who are dependent on kerosene lamps which emit green house gases and can be unsafe has received $5 million in funding from Michael Bloomberg Philanthropies, which will be used to expand the company’s distribution.

The investment is in the form of a low interest rate loan and marks the first time that Bloomberg Philanthropies has made such an impact investment, a form of socially responsible investing.

Founded in 2008 by the engineer Frank Ottesen and the Danish artist Olafur Eliasson, Little Sun has provided its product to eight countries in Africa: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Zimbabwe. The LED solar lamp that it produces is hand held and its rechargeable battery can last for up to three years. In that period of time, Little Sun estimates that consumers will save up to 90% of what they normally spend on kerosene.

The company describes itself as “A social business focused on getting clean, reliable, affordable light to the 1.6 billion people worldwide without access to electricity.”

In a statement about the investment, the former New York City mayor said, “Too many families are forced to breathe in toxic kerosene fumes because they don’t have access to electricity. Little Sun is bringing clean, safe, affordable light to people who don’t have it today.”

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Little Sun’s managing director and CEO Felix Hallwachs said, “Today, seven out of ten people lack access to even the most basic electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa. Over the next 20 years, Africa is poised to hold the world’s largest un-electrified population. The impact investment from Bloomberg Philanthropies will help us reach our goal of providing clean energy to homes, schools and local businesses, replacing toxic kerosene lamps everywhere we work. We consider access to clean, safe and sustainable energy a fundamental human right.”

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