Stewart Craine, A Village Infrastructure Angel, Found His Adventure By Lighting Up The World With Solar Energy!

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Dear Friends & Visitors/Viewers/Readers,

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Hope this post is finding you relaxed from  turkey feast and with room for left-over turkey sandwiches.  As for me, the more time I’ve spent on researching about Barefoot Power and its cofounder Stewart Craine, the more I am thankful for our access to electricity/power and hope that this solar development wizard Stewart did not only reach his original  goal of reaching 1 million people by 2010, building a solid and sustainable business that will provide not only solar lighting kits but also many other solar energy products available to many earthlings, but also finding time to take a breather for himself, for he certainly deserves it .

Today’s piece is long overdue due to interruption of Hurricane Sandy, US Presidential election, and some hardware difficulty in uploading the video associated with this particular interview.  As much occurrence in life, one can always look for the silver lining in any event.  In this case, the silver lining is that I had more time in doing background search associated with Mr. Stewart Craine,  cofounder of Barefoot Power of Australia.

Did you know that over US $10 billion (some say over 17 billion) is spent each year on kerosene for lighting homes in developing countries? (please see Lighting Africaand Lumina Project )  The light cast from a kerosene lamp is poorly distributed, difficult for children to study; its open flame, smoke, and soot from kerosene lights endanger lives by reducing indoor air quality and increasing the likelihood of fire.

The negative impacts of using kerosene lighting as a result of energy poverty, listed below, are sobering:
*The World Health Organization (WHO) reported-over 300,000 deaths each year from burns, vast majority of these occur in low and middle income countries.
*Nearly 4 million women suffer from severe burns from open fires and kerosene lighting each year.
*More children die from fire related injuries than fatalities from tuberculosis or malaria.
*The poor, mostly women and children, consume the equivalent of two packs of cigarettes of smoke from indoor air pollution, resulting in chronic respiratory and eye diseases.
*The United Nations Development Program and the WHO reported 1.6 million deaths per year (one life lost per 20 second) in developing countries caused by the indoor air pollution due to traditional fuel source. Below, you will find a clip of the interview with Stewart Craine:


What Mr. Stewart  Craine and his team had done is to help people getting onto the ladder out of energy poverty through the use of affordable solar lighting and phone charging to low-income population without access to electricity.  After graduating from UOW (University of Wollongong) with double degrees in civil engineering and mathematics,  driven by the desire to seek adventure rather than security or boredom, Stewart chose to work with AVO (Australian Volunteers Overseas/International), leading to two year stint working on renewable energy projects  in Western Nepal.  This apparently ignited his passion for international development and a desire to find a more effective model than the aid model.  Realizing that he could not volunteer forever, he went to work for Hydro Tasmania, where he and his colleague Harry Andrews collaboratively found the solution for Stewart’s career path of more effective model of international development by establishing Bathurst-based Barefoot Power in 2005.  Barefoot Power is a development for-profit company aiming to fight poverty and climate change in developing countries by distributing household solar lighting equipment and off-grid power solutions to the poor population currently using kerosene and other environmentally harmful energy sources.  Selling solar kits employing LED technology to provide cheap, safe, and efficient power to  impoverished families in the developing countries was not only a worthwhile thing to do, it can be a sustainable business.    In 2010 Barefoot Power won product awards in all tested categories for off-grid lighting products in a competition at an international conference( (organised by the Lighting Africa program of the IFC (International Finance Corporation) which is part of the World Bank Group)  held in Nairobi, Kenya.  This caught the attention of  EIB (European Investment Bank), enabling Barefoot Power to sign an agreement with EIB such that the EIB provided a grant of up to EUR 1 million in the form of a Management Technical Support Facility of the European Community in connection with the GEEREF (Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund, www.geeref.eu ).  Prior to the grant (first segment was made available to Barefoot Power in August of 2010), CO2 emission reductions from Barefoot Power’s products were 5,000 tons per year,  and the impact has increased to 30,000 tons per year by the end of the grant in late 2011.  Such CO2 emission reduction is expected to double each year thereafter.  Subsequently, Barefoot Power had received global recognition including an award from G20 and support of entrepreneurial superstar Richard Branson.

My interest in writing this piece did not  stem from the fact that Stewart and I both had received  degrees in mathematics and civil engineering,  but stemmed from our connection to Kiva ( a micro-finance institution  helping entrepreneurs in USA and various developing countries): my connection with the Sunisthefuture Team at Kiva ( w/interest  in helping small businesses in solar energy/renewable energy/energy efficiency/recycling), urging Kiva to expand in the area of Green and Solar loans, and helping to raise the money for Kiva’s first solar loan through Barefoot Power.  It was quite a thrilling experience to have seen over 1000 Kiva lenders (1034  to be exact) gathering cooperatively across the globe to help light up Tanzania through distributor Martin of Barefoot Power.  (Stewart also assured me that The Grace Foundation had much to do with Martin’s loan being a success). Certainly, we (Sunisthefuture Team and many other teams at Kiva) are all looking forward to more opportunities in helping to light up our planet earth via the clean and efficient solar lighting/kits.  So, Stewart, whether your solar kits will be in Africa, Pacific, or any where else, we just want you to remember that  there will be thousands and thousands of us earthlings, ready to collaborate with you in your effort in lighting up the world. Mr. Craine is now broadening his horizon, developing www.villageinfrastructure.com , by expanding his solar product line to more than just the solar lighting kits. We wish him much success for there is plenty of sunshine in Africa, waiting to be tapped.

~have a bright and sunny day~

Any comments/suggestions/questions/concerns will be welcomed at sunisthefuture@gmail.com

gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker
Homepage:  http://www.sunisthefuture.net


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