Solar Company Finds Market Opportunity in Designing Products for Underserved Consumers

In an period of local weather change and social unrest, some millennials are combining a eager consciousness of social and environmental issues with an entrepreneurial spirit to create corporations that help not simply their house owners and staff, but in addition communities and the surroundings. 

“I wouldn’t begin an organization with out [social impact],” says Jonas Ketterle, a mechanical engineer and chief imagineer at Greenlight Planet, which creates photo voltaic-powered lights for individuals dwelling with out electrical energy in Africa and India.

“Every day, B.A billion individuals are dwelling off the power grid,” Ketterle says. Greenlight Planet, a B Corp, has bought P.H million Sun King lamps in Africa and India. The firm has simply begun providing the lamps, which retail for about $forty, to within the D.R. “These final three years have been the turning level for our firm as gross sales took off,” Ketterle says, noting that gross sales have greater than doubled in every of the final three years.

Since its inception in 2005, Greenlight Planet has taken a individuals-centric quite than product-centric strategy to creating its reasonably priced lamps, which give photo voltaic-powered lighting as an alternative choice to lights utilizing harmful, costly, and polluting fuels like kerosene. Ketterle says the “know-how agnostic” strategy taken by Greenlight led to stronger product design.

Greenlight Planet’s goal market presents each challenges and alternatives. They have “been a historically uncared for shopper from a product design perspective,” Ketterle says of poor and rural residents in India and Africa. Their assets are extra restricted than Western shoppers, however this doesn’t imply they aren’t picky buyers. “They may be extra discerning as a result of they will’t afford to make an funding in a product that’s going to fail,” he explains.

A 2008 recipient of the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, Ketterle, 28, is within the strategy of beginning Firefly Chocolate, and he created a nonprofit, Beyond Suicide, after dropping his mom to suicide seven years in the past. “I’m nourished by engaged on a number of totally different artistic tasks concurrently,” he says. He sees these ventures as totally different strands of the identical thread. “All of my initiatives are social change oriented. They have an ethic of empowering individuals at their core.”

Ketterle believes within the potential for companies to succeed by addressing the wants of communities. “In engaged on social good, we’re establishing a significant relationship with the client,” he says. Businesses also can present impetus for constructive change. “With enterprise, we’re capable of leverage an incredible quantity of assets,” he notes. “Often it takes personal capital and funding to create [breakthrough] options.”

Which brings Ketterle again to Beyond Suicide’s aim to work towards a world with out suicide. His analysis has proven him that the one issue widespread to all suicides is a sense of hopelessness. “Hope is one thing that a society can generate,” he says. “A revenue-centered strategy is just not sufficient to generate hope on a constant foundation.” He sees mission-driven entrepreneurship as a option to “create extra resilient communities and resilient people.”

Photo of Jonas Ketterle courtesy of Greenlight Planet.

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