University Students Design for Good


Projected to launch in Africa mid-summer, the Solar Pebble will quite possibly prove to be a life-changer for rural African communities.

Created by three university students in the UK, the industrial design and sustainable strategist consultancy, Plus Minus Design, will shed light on some of Africa’s most rural and isolated communities. The innovative, and cost effective, solar-powered LED light will hopefully replace most of the kerosene lanterns currently in use by most of these societies.

The light, otherwise known as the Solar Pebble, costs under $3 to manufacture and will stay lit for 22.5 hours when fully charged. In addition to being eco-friendly, replacing the need for kerosene will help reduce fires and respiratory health conditions, as well as save money. Currently, the average family in Malawi spends 20 percent of their income on the fuel.

In addition to lighting, the Solar Pebble will also charge mobile phones and portable radios. While these items are common in the villages, places to charge them are not. By increasing radio power, the design team hopes to increase awareness in the rural communities about HIV/AIDS education through radio programs.

Plus Minus Design was guided by the organization Solar Aid, which works to reduce climate change and poverty around the world by providing sustainable, renewable power to poverty-stricken communities.

The designers believe that design, sustainability and humanitarian efforts can, together, provide a profitable business solution. In an article for the University of Leeds, Adam Robinson one of the founders said, “We believe that sustainability doesn’t need to be a financial burden for companies. It’s an opportunity to increase market share, sales and profits. What we offer is a design service that not only creates new products, but also takes the whole production process into account.”

Editor’s note: Article by Katie Leavitt. Originally published by our friends at Tonic is a digital media company and news source dedicated to promoting the good that happens each day around the world. Tonic tells the stories of people and organizations who are working to make a difference, by inspiring good in themselves and others. Be sure to visit them and say hi, and follow Tonic on Twitter, too!