When two earthquakes recently hit Nepal, a small group of local solar companies and others quickly coalesced to help. After food and shelter, electricity for lighting and mobile phone charging is a critical need in such situations. Mobile phones can help villagers reunite with family and reach out for relief supplies.
“You’ve just lost your home, you’re in a tent, you have no light, and you may be separated from loved ones, so lighting and communications are vitally important,” said Alyssa Newman, a global public affairs professional and part of the Rebuild With Sun campaign. Alyssa teamed up with Gham Power, the Kathmandu-based solar company spearheading the effort, d.Light, a global solar company serving developing countries, and Empower Generation, a nonprofit working to empower women to become clean energy entrepreneurs.
SolarCity’s GivePower Foundation, which brings solar-powered light to schools in parts of the world without access to electricity, has been privileged to help as well. The foundation will outfit 200 schools in Nepal with small portable solar-power generators equipped with batteries for energy storage.
“Schools in the region, though some are damaged, are now functioning as temporary relief centers for medical triage and community gathering places, as well as phone charging stations,” Alyssa said. “Six months from now, when the schools are fully back up and running, the solar systems will remain. This has been a terrible disaster, but we have an opportunity in a country that is already looking at solar to accelerate that movement and show that solar is part of both a long-term and immediate solution to grid stability, economic development and climate change.”
“Entrepreneurship is needed to achieve this goal,” Alyssa added. “Immediate disaster relief is critical in a situation like this, but we also need people to have meaningful work and income.”
To raise funds for Rebuild With Sun, the Global Nepali Professional Network - a nonprofit fostering entrepreneurship among its members for technological progress in Nepal - joined with Gham Power CEO Sandeep Giri (a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who was born in Nepal) to launch an indieGogo campaign. 100% of donations will go directly to solar power systems that the group will provide to Nepalis and relief workers.