Barefoot Lighting, a social enterprise that focuses on providing affordable lighting

We’re experimenting with embedded video on the VC4Africa site. My feeling is that, while YouTube and Vimeo are great places to host video, they don’t give the context that’s  needed for a proper discussion about topics. Just look at the comments on YouTube…useless. Last year I put up a number of videos made at conferences which I thought might interest VC4Africa members. I got some useful reaction. It wasn’t possible to transfer those posts to the new site. So I have selected interviews which I still think are relevant for 2012 and put them here in the hope they will stimulate conversations here,

Barefoot Power’s Battle against Kerosene lighting from Jonathan Marks on Vimeo.

Been investigating the off-grid lighting market for both consumers and those businesses trying to reduce their power consumption or find alternatives during power outages. is a great place to start – the figures on how much the world wastes on fuel lamps is mind-boggling.

I bumped into Barefoot Power at last year’s SOCAP conference in Amsterdam. Stewart Craine gave me an excellent briefing on the challenges facing the industry and the ways they are keeping up competition from other countries eager to get into the solar lighting market. Word of mouth marketing on what’s good and bad seems to be very very powerful, especially when people are investing hard earned cash in a product they hope will last. As well as being an entrepreneur, I was impressed what Barefoot has researched for the good of the industry as a whole. That’s world class.

The challenge and opportunity as described on their website, ‘Over US$10 billion is spent each year on kerosene for lighting in the homes of the poor in developing countries (see Lighting Africa and the Lumina Project). The poor burn US$17 billion of kerosene each year in lanterns to light their homes. The light cast from a kerosene lamp is poorly distributed, has a low intensity and is expensive. The poor lighting levels from kerosene lamps makes it difficult for children to study, affecting literacy and education, and minimizes the effective working hours for income generating activities. The open flame, smoke and soot from kerosene lamps endanger lives by reducing indoor air quality and increasing the likelihood of fire.’ See more.