2018 Impact Report
Download 2018 Sustainability Report
At BioLite, the only thing we’re more obsessed with than building amazing technology is structuring a business that can sustainably reach the hundreds-of-millions of people who need access to energy.
For the past 5 years, we’ve invested as much in our market development as our products themselves, and in 2018 that market system began to gain substantial traction.
In 2018 BioLite’s Kenya-based emerging markets team helped over half-a-million people gain access to clean energy. And we’re proud to say that our products are having a huge impact on people’s lives; 53% of our 2018 customers purchased modern energy for the first time, and they were able to afford the purchase despite more than half of our customers earning incomes below the Kenyan national poverty line of $3.10 per day. In a word – we’ve begun to achieve impact at scales well beyond the reach of traditional philanthropy.
Scale is a big deal at BioLite and to be successful our technologies must be delivering real value, our distribution partnerships reaching the right customers, our consumer loans meeting the economic needs of our customers, and our service teams must keep this system functioning every day. Building on this success, we anticipate reaching over one million individuals across Sub- Saharan Africa in 2019.
A common trait among all of our products no matter the market is the user-centric design that infuses every solution; we saw this affirmed by rapid growth of SolarHome 620 in East Africa and with the breakout hit of the HeadLamp 330 in the outdoor market. A new category for BioLite, this entry into the headlight space continues to deliver on our promise of being an end-to-end energy solution for life away from an outlet.
I’m incredibly proud to share the data, stories, and insights inside this year’s report – it is a powerful representation of Parallel Innovation in action and our ongoing commitment to bringing clean, affordable energy to those who need it most.
Thank you for your continued support and for helping us bring Energy Everywhere.
Co-Founder & CEO, BioLite
View A Few Highlights From the Report Below:
Impact By the Numbers
2018 Corporate Sustainability Report
BioLite’s 2018 carbon footprint analysis reveals some key conclusions and trends. First, BioLite’s products result in a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to emissions produced from BioLite operations [see Lifecycle Analysis below]. In 2018, BioLite emitted a total of 4,097 tCO2e. This carbon footprint is up markedly from years past, driven primarily by greatly expanded sales. BioLite continues to implement and explore new means of greenhouse gas mitigation within its operations. In addition to greenhouse gas mitigation, BioLite will continue to offset its entire carbon footprint through a combination of BioLite carbon credits and third-party-verified credits purchased from trusted partners.
Second, as BioLite grew in 2018, the company’s carbon intensity, as defined by emissions per product manufactured, remained relatively constant, as BioLite saw increased sales volume of both low and high emission products. For a complete analysis, download our 2018 Sustainability Report.
Download 2018 Sustainability Report
Stories of Impact
Every year we select a few of our favorite stories from the community to show how BioLiter’s near and far are bringing Energy Everywhere. This year we’re excited to introduce you to an organization helping us unlock affordability across emerging markets, our first-ever Parallel Ambassador, and a thru-hiker who served as our first HeadLamp 330 beta-tester.
Skip to the story you'd like to read:
- Get to know a BioLite Partner: Unlocking Affordability with Angaza
- Meet a BioLite Ambassador & HeadLamp 330 Beta Tester: The Healing Power of Moving Forward Through Nature
- Meet BioLite's First Parallel Ambassador: Staying Connected to What Matters Most
Unlocking Affordability: Angaza's Pay-As-You-Go Technology
Beyond leapfrogging telephone lines, mobile phones have come to dominate the way business is transacted in East Africa. Whether it’s buying corn from a stand or a solar lighting solution, mobile transactions empower the unbanked to participate in markets that used to be out of reach.
While mobile phone ownership is opening up new avenues for communication and business, it’s also creating a paradox: if your phone is your wallet and you don’t have access to a charge, your wallet is effectively frozen when you run out of battery. Having reliable access to a charge is one reason that BioLite’s power generating appliances like the HomeStove and SolarHome 620 have become so popular.
However, many of our customers earn less than $2/day and finding upfront capital for those purchases becomes a major obstacle, no matter how reasonable the price. This year, we partnered with Angaza to bridge the financing gap and unlock affordability across the markets in which we operate.
Angaza embeds a revolutionary Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) system into the hardware of our SolarHome 620. This metering and monitoring technology allows customers without existing credit profiles to pay for their solar home systems in small increments over time via a mobile phone.
By removing the upfront cost barrier of purchasing solar, Angaza’s PAYG financing technology has quadrupled the rate at which distributors can transition off-grid families to solar. This year, BioLite enabled distribution partners to sell 70,000 PAYG solar products to off-grid consumers. This reach means over that 350,000 throughout Africa have been able to stop purchasing kerosene and adopt, clean reliable solar energy. With Angaza’s help, we’ll be able to scale our operations and reach the customers who need solar the most with better products, delivered at better prices.
For more on this topic, view our short film, Mobile Money.
Around the Bend: The Healing Power of Moving Forward Through Nature
“[Thru-hiking] is very empowering - it’s such an intense and incredible feeling. I find myself craving the mystery of what’s around the next bend or what’s on top of the next mountain.” ~ Jet, BioLite Ambassador.
Jet Garner is a Navy Veteran who was medically retired after two tours in Afghanistan. Upon returning home, he became interested in reconnecting with the outdoors. After participating in a Sierra Club program attempting to measure the impact of nature on the effects of PTSD on veterans, he began planning his first solo long distance hike - 1200 miles on the PCT.
"I thought, a thousand mile walk, how bad could that be?"
Turns out, brutal, humbling – and life-changing. There was challenging elevation, harsh weather, and exhausting days. There was also captivating landscapes and an undercurrent of self-reliance that enabled Jet to reconnect with himself and the world around him. Unfamiliar territory was no longer grounds for stress, but opportunities for constant wonder and discovery. "I was totally hooked," says Jet.
This summer, Jet set out to hike the Colorado Trail. As an experienced thru-hiker, his gear requirements were strict. When it came to a head lamp, he needed one with limited ounces and long run times. He agreed to put ours to the test. After a few days, Jet found himself slipping HeadLamp 330 on well before dusk so he could hike past sunset. He no longer felt rushed to get camp set up before dark and took his time on the trail wherever he wanted.
Jet wrapped up his Colorado Trail trek in July 2018 and reports that HeadLamp 330 has earned a permanent spot in his pack. He's been using it regularly to light evening hikes and while guiding kayak tours in Point Reyes National Park.
To learn more about Jet’s experience on the trail, watch our mini doc filmed on part of his Colorado Trail Thru-hike.
Staying Connected to What Matters Most
"THANK YOU for this! I’m not used to this cold," she said, shivering and smiling.
As we talked around the fire, we learned that Jane was a professional runner in California, but her family was back home in Moiben, Kenya. Missing them often, she calls and texts daily to stay in touch, but their off-grid home makes reliable contact difficult.
"I try their phones and they'll be off and I'll start worrying 'is everything ok?’"
Over the past year, Jane directed a portion of her race winnings to building a new home for her family – almost complete, it lacked one critical final touch: power.
When we told Jane about the SolarHome 620, she could hardly believe what she was hearing – and invited us to join her on a trip back home. In August, Jane’s family worked closely with the local BioLite team to install a SolarHome 620 at their new home. To document the process and introduce our first-ever Parallel Ambassador (with a foot in east Africa and a foot in the outdoors) we launched our latest short film, Run Home.
“We don’t have to run out of light anymore,” says Jane. “It’s a big, huge difference for me. Not only for me, for the whole family too.”
The new system allows her nieces and nephews to work on homework after the sun goes down and everyone’s phone can remain on. Now Jane knows that no matter how far she travels her family is always reachable.
Jane is a powerful example that no matter where we are in the world, energy helps us stay connected.