2020 Impact Report
A Letter From The CEO
I’m not going to bury the lede here. Amidst a year of major uncertainty and disruption, the BioLite team rallied together to achieve a massive milestone: over 1.7 million individuals reached with BioLite’s clean energy solutions across Africa and Asia. That’s up by an additional one million people from when I last wrote this letter.
Crossing the million lives threshold is a reason to celebrate in any year, but I am especially humbled and inspired by how my colleagues pivoted to protect impact – and each other – in 2020.
At BioLite we are on a mission to empower people to feel safe, productive, and connected through renewable energy; this took on an even deeper, more personal meaning over the past twelve months as we all confronted challenges that put health, work, and relationships all at risk. Through a combination of agility, perseverance, and shared purpose, our team was able to band together and make incredible things happen:
- Scale commercial distribution of SolarHome 5000, a Solar TV system signifying a major step up the energy ladder for homes in emerging markets.
- Launch two new HeadLamps and three FirePit accessories in outdoor markets, further expanding how and where we can show up in the outdoor customer’s life.
- Execute a top-to-bottom packaging redesign that not only carried us into the future visually, it also dramatically reduced our use of plastics and non-recyclable materials, a critical step in our continued commitment to sustainability.
And all of this was done in a fully remote capacity.
2020 was not just a testament to our model, it was a testament to the people who drive our success at BioLite, their resilience, and a reminder of the shared humanity and future that connects all of us. If we can do all this in a year like 2020, imagine the possibilities that lay ahead of us.
As we kick off this impact report, I leave you not only with immense gratitude, but with refreshed and focused determination, best summed up by BioLite’s first-ever public facing vision: to reach 20 million individuals with clean energy and avoid 3 million tons of CO2e by 2025.
To the team at BioLite: thank you for your strength, your patience, and your energy. This would not have happened without you. To the broader BioLite community: thank you for your support. We can’t wait to show you what comes next.
In Good Energy,
Jonathan Cedar CEO, BioLite
Impact By The Numbers
BioLite is proud to share a major milestone we reached in 2020: 1,785,509 people are now living with clean energy access through BioLite products.
A year ago, this number was just shy of 800,000 - and with a year full of challenges and disruptions like 2020, it is especially meaningful and motivating to our team to see what we can all accomplish, together. Thank you for helping us make this possible. This is parallel innovation not only in action – it’s parallel innovation at scale.
This a big number - so big, that it can be hard to wrap your head around what it actually means. Here’s how this impact takes shape:
Corporate Sustainability Summary
Overall, BioLite continued to drive impact across a number of metrics in 2020. We hit a major milestone impacting well over one million people, and this also resulted in increases in watt hours generated and installed energy capacity, primarily driven by the continued success of our SolarHome 620 product as well as the launch of the SolarHome 5000.
We also continued to expand our cookstove business with an increase in efficient charcoal stoves sales in Kenya, resulting in a significant gain in fuelwood savings and tons of wood avoided.
In 2020, BioLite redesigned the packaging of our entire 53-SKU portfolio. Two major goals of the redesign project were to reduce the amount of plastic used in our packaging and increase the use of recycled materials.
- 53 total SKUs were completely redesigned, from the structure to the visual composition
- 2.9 tons of plastic will be avoided from hitting the waste stream in 2021
- 93% plastic reduction through drastically reducing plastic blisters and polybags
- 22% recycled materials will comprise our total packaging material usage in 20211
Stories Of Impact
Moving Up The Energy Ladder With SolarHome 5000
EMERGING MARKETS - Kabati, Kenya
“Tumeric, honey, lemon, ginger, water – that’s how you make dawa to get rid of a cold.”
This advice comes from Jacinta, a small-share farmer based in Kabati Kenya who wakes up daily at 6am to tend to her livestock and crop farm of maize, cassava, mangoes, spinach and Sukumawiki. After her morning routine, sometime around 10am, she returns to her mud-built home and turns on her television to catch up on local news and learn from her favorite health channel (that’s where the dawa came from). After this, she’ll move on to supervising details on the construction of her new stone house, an upgrade made possible in part due to the savings she has amassed no longer paying for expensive paraffin fuel. Her grandchildren complete homework in the other room, moving through their workbooks without strain thanks to the overhead lighting that now fills the house. At the end of the day, Jacinta turns on her radio and sings along to her favorite Kikuyu Christian songs – her favorite one is a song of praise, a reflection on how far she has come.
Power To The Parents
And uncles, aunts, teachers, siblings, neighbors, and everyone who helped kids find joy and learning in a wild year.
Eager for fresh activities away from screens and tight quarters, families looked to the outdoors for a safe way to decompress and recharge during a scary and uncertain year.
Bringing The Lab Home
Special thanks to the family members, roommates, and pets who suddenly ended up with BioLite workspaces, galleries, and labs in their home.
Living rooms transformed; masked hand-offs of prototypes on the street; zoom breakout rooms to discuss how we work together as a company. This was 2020 – the year of major disruption and incredible resilience from the BioLite Team.
Building a Blueprint for Energy Expansion In West Africa
PARTNER SPOTLIGHT, BAOBAB+
BioLite has grown its presence in West Africa substantially thanks to a collaborative partnership with Baobab+, a social business committed to providing access to energy and digital, dedicated to building digital and financial inclusion for off-grid and unbanked households across sub-Saharan Africa.
At the core of this successful relationship is a shared commitment to user-centered design and building products that have beauty and soul.