At 11:56 AM, April 25th, an earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale rocked Nepal. This earthquake, which occurred in Kathmandu Valley, located in the middle of the country, levelled cities and centuries old buildings alike, leaving thousands dead and hundreds of thousands homeless, living in darkness.
The International community responded almost immediately, sending aid through a number of different channels. This aid was formulated from a wide variety of sources, from traditional relief organizations like the Red Cross to crowdfunding campaigns made on sites like Crowdrise, Indiegogo and GoFundMe.
The problems Nepal faces from the earthquake’s impact are extensive. Over a million Nepalese are living without shelter, clean water, and basic amenities. The mountainous geography of Nepal however has meant that bringing the necessary aid to those in isolated areas has been especially difficult. This terrain has also led to the fundamental issue of providing power to the people of Nepal, even before the Earthquake.
Roughly 60% of Nepal’s 27.8 million population will likely never be on the power grid, while those with access can experience daily outages up to 18 hours long.
Empower Generation, a social enterprise in the current GSBI Accelerator cohort at the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, believes they have a way to solve this dilemma.
Founded in 2011, by Bennett Cohen, Empower Generation is a small non-profit that consists of a network of 12 micro-enterprises run by 16 women entrepreneurs across 10 districts of Nepal. Empower Generation’s mission is to build clean, sustainable energy markets to tackle the causes of poverty. They boast a number of high quality products including d.light solar lanterns and home systems and BBOXX solar powered systems).
Since the earthquake, Empower Generation’s team has been working non stop to turn the lights back on. On day two after the initial earthquake, the Empower Generation team began distributing lights and creating charging stations for relief workers in Kathmandu. Over the course of the next two weeks, Empower Generation was able to distribute over 2,000 quality solar lights adding an additional 7,000 through their partners. These have helped restore light for more than 53,000 earthquake survivors; prompting CNN to recognize Empower Generation’s efforts.
After more than a month and another earthquake with a 7.3 degree of magnitude Empower Generation had distributed over 9,000 solar lights and mobile phone chargers. They likely would have distributed more had they not run out of stock.
Despite their success, Empower Generation remains unsatisfied by their accomplishments striving for all of Nepal to have access to light, driven on by the responses of people like Subhadra Pyakurel.
Subhadra, a recipient of one of the new solar lights perfectly described the reason why light is so necessary for Nepal’s recovery; “Having light in our home means feeling safe, secure, and becoming hopeful of leading a new life by leaving our past behind us, To me light makes me hopeful for the future.”
You can support Empower Generation directly at http://www.empowergeneration.org/