What we believe

The goal of our work is to have a large, positive impact on our world, where we measure our impact in terms to how it can improve lives of the most disadvantaged.  We believe that perhaps the clearest indication that the lives of our customers and beneficiaries are improving is improvements in health and well-being.  In addition, perhaps the starkest, easy-to-measure and easy-to-understand indicator of well-being is child mortality rates. In areas of the world with the worst child mortality, more than half of families can have one or more of their children die before the age of five as they are growing up.  We believe that this has got to change.

We have two sets of beliefs that are relevant to what we hope to do: The first are moral beliefs: what is right and what is wrong, and how do we set priorities and goals for our actions.  The second set of beliefs are tactical, strategic and organizational beliefs of what will and will not be effective in obtaining our ultimate goals.  Let's cover these two sets of beliefs in turn:

Moral Beliefs:
  • We believe that all people are equal: no one person or life is any more valuable than any other person or life
  • We believe that in an unequal world we must provide a "preferential option for the poor" similar to what is taught by the Catholic Church
  • We believe that we all have a responsibility to strive to make the world a better place in an equal and fair partnership with others who are either interested in the same goals, or who may benefit from such an improved world
Our two lead staff are not only organizers of positive change, but we are also scientists.  As scientist/organizers our tactics and strategies attempt to break out of the boundaries of conventional organizational and economic assumptions and constraints.  As we push this venture forward, we will constantly be creating new organizational structures and implementation strategies.  But these strategies will always be underpinned by a set of tactical, strategic and organizational beliefs that will guide our choices in developing our strategies and methods.

Tactical, Strategic, and Organizational Beliefs
  • We believe that we must build organizations and networks of trust in order to effectively and efficiently reach the poorest and most distant communities in Africa.  This means that we have to develop practices and methods that meet the highest standards of fairness and mutual respect
  • We believe that we must maximize the building of African organizations and productive assets to get solar systems and electricity to the farthest reaches of Africa effectively and efficiently.  This means maximizing local, distributed African value-added, and retaining revenue and profits throughout all levels of our distributional networks to build these assets and capacities
  • We believe that our venture must be financially sustainable and self-sufficient. This means that pricing and allocation of resources will be done according to costs and we will not seek subsidies (which distort costs) or concentrate resources in one part of the organization at the expense and detriment of other parts of the organization
  • We believe that we have to be accountable first and foremost to our beneficiaries and customers. This means that we will not seek long term subsidies (which make us accountable to donors rather than customers) and we will structure our organization to provide services in response to customer demand and willingness to pay...as this is a clear and scientific indication of what customers need and want
  • We believe in maximizing the amount of health improvement per unit of investment or revenue because this is the clearest and most objective measure of whether we are meeting our humanitarian goals.  This means we will continually estimate and forecast the health and mortality-reduction impacts of our activities  and we will seek to maximize the amount of beneficial impact returned per unit investment from a long-term perspective; and
  • We believe that we must maximize our rate of technological and business innovation in the service of our customers and beneficiaries.  This means that we rapidly revise our solar system designs, product offerings, and business model in partnership with our partners and collaborators. Currently we have a 3-6 month product and system design innovation cycle.