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What are the Anthill Cool Company Awards?
The Cool Company Awards were launched in 2006 as a way for Anthill to acknowledge and celebrate Australian organisations that are doing things differently to bring about positive change. Cool Companies stay one step ahead of the rest. They breed leaders who are rule-makers and rule-breakers. They are trend-setters in attitude and action. Quite simply, they are … cool! More.
Company: Barefoot Power
Category: Social Capitalist
Start with one person. Give them some light. Show them the way.
That’s what Barefoot Power is doing in developing communities in Africa and elsewhere.
By replacing kerosene-fed lamps with its highly innovative and practical solar-powered LEDs, it provides the poor with access to electricity and one very necessary tool for economic development… light.
Cutting back kerosene use also reduces the carbon footprint of these struggling nations.
Five hours of sunlight will provide a lamp with one night of energy. The solar panels can also be used to charge a mobile phone, helping financially impoverished people maintain access to employers. The cost of one lamp is equivalent to only two months of kerosene usage.
For their tireless efforts toward raising up their fellow humans (while cleaning up the environment), Barefoot Power is king of the hill, top of the heap — the Coolest Company in Anthill’s 2010 Cool Company Awards!
Barefoot Power, established about six years ago, is headquartered in Bathurst, NSW, but has a farflung grassroots network of distributors and investors.
In addition to distributing the LED product, Barefoot also helps local entrepreneurs develop business plans and get assistance from micro-loan institutions to finance all levels of the supply chain.
Energy developments in developing countries have traditionally focused on medium to large power users, requiring significant investment that often doesn’t trickle down to the poorer communities for decades. By starting at the grassroots level and providing cheaper lighting to the communities, the people there can use the money saved in investment to build much-needed energy infrastructure.
The company’s goal is to reach one million people by the end of this year, five million by 2012 and 10 million by 2015. Barefoot Power needs about $6 million to $8 million of additional investment in the near term to meet that 2015 target. This would be made up by $3 million to $4 million of equity at $125 a share to sell up to 49% of the company, plus $3 million to $4 million of debt at 7% to 10% interest.
Barefoot Power this year was a winner in the G-20 Finance Challenge — one of the 14 honorees chosen from 350 proposals. The company was invited to the G-20 summit in November in Seoul, South Korea. Barefoot Power also captured four product quality award at the World Bank’s Lighting Africa competition in May. Oh, and the company was among Anthill’s Smart 100 in 2009 and 2010.
“We think there is nothing cooler than being able to empower poor communities to improve themselves through something as simple as lighting and access to business advice and funding,” Barefoot Power wrote in its Cool Company application. “More than 600,000 people now have lighting, displacing kerosene use, reducing burns and respiratory illness, and saving 30,000 tonnes of carbon.
“We’re not just teaching these people how to fish; we’re showing them how to build the fishing co-operative! On top of all that, we’re helping the environment.”
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