Saturday, December 12, 2009

Villagers get micro-loans to buy lighting systems

Boys help assemble an LED system

What started as a family project has emerged as the Light Up the World Foundation, which has reached 25,000 people in 51 countries. Initially systems were given away. Today, growing numbers of villagers are purchasing and maintaining the equipment. "Our short term goal for the next couple of years is that 80 percent of all the systems that Light up the World is involved [with] will be via micro-credit," Irvine-Halliday says, "where the villager borrows from local micro-credit organizations and pays them back."

The organization has made a difference in people's lives beyond Irvine-Halliday's expectations.

Acquiring this simple and non-polluting form of electric light, he points out, promotes education, public health, economic security and a cleaner environment. In January, he will retire from his day job at the University of Calgary. He's also decided to give up leadership in Light up the World Foundation to start a company in India that will develop a more energy-efficient and cheaper lighting system that he hopes will bring even more light to the world's poor.

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