Marking its 10th anniversary, The Charles Bronfman Prize announced that Canadian Sam Goldman, Founder & Chief Customer Officer of d.light design, an international social enterprise, is the 2014 award recipient.
Each year, The Charles Bronfman Prize – and an accompanying $100,000 award – is presented to a visionary and dynamic humanitarian under the age of 50 whose work is informed by Jewish values, has global impact that changes lives and inspires future generations.
“Sam has created a truly distinctive social entrepreneurial model to design, manufacture, distribute and finance an affordable product that is already improving the lives of more than 33 million people in 62 countries – a substantial number of those in 2013 alone. Replacing expensive and dangerous kerosene, which produces low quality light and noxious fumes, with affordable solar products that provide greatly improved lighting, transforms an unhealthy and dangerous environment for some of the most impoverished people in the world. It simultaneously reduces greenhouse gas emissions and improves education by providing the light students need in order to study,” said Ambassador Stuart E. Eizenstat, speaking on behalf of the international panel of judges who selected Goldman for the Prize.
“Recognizing that philanthropy and humanitarian work are increasingly taking new shapes and forms, 2014 marks the first time The Charles Bronfman Prize has been awarded to an individual working through a for-profit social enterprise. While previous recipients have all been in the nonprofit space, The Charles Bronfman Prize judges saw in Sam Goldman a creative and compelling example of an individual who determined a socially responsible, for-profit model was best to take to scale globally his unique vision to provide light to those in need.”
After spending years conducting humanitarian work across the globe, Sam founded d.light, a certified B Corporation, dedicated to providing the most reliable, affordable and accessible solar lighting and power systems for the developing world with a goal of reaching 100 million people by 2020.
While Sam was serving with the Peace Corps in the West African country of Benin, he lived in a remote village without electricity, lighting his nights with a kerosene lamp. After a neighbor’s son was nearly killed in a kerosene accident, Sam realized the grim fact that almost 2 billion people worldwide also led lives lit by kerosene. From his village, Sam could see satellites orbiting the Earth at night. He knew technology existed that could easily replace kerosene lanterns, and asked himself why that wasn’t happening. After his time in the Peace Corps, Sam went to Stanford Graduate School of Business, determined to start a company that would produce an alternative to kerosene lanterns.
Less than a decade later, d.light was named one of the 10 “Best for the World” companies by B Lab. The list ranks Certified B Corporations in a rigorous and comprehensive assessment of purpose driven companies’ impact on their workers, community and the environment.
Through over a dozen field offices and four distribution hubs in Africa, China, South Asia and the United States, d.light has sold more than 6 million solar light and power products around the world. An estimated 8 million children are now able to study productively thanks to d.light, and d.light has already saved its customers over $1 billion in energy-related expenses. In doing so, d.light is also reducing entire communities’ carbon footprints and opening up new opportunities for people living in extreme poverty. It is growing at the rate of 1 million users per month.