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2009 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Solar Electric Light Fund

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Economic Development, Energy Resources Conservation & Development, Environment, International, International Economic Development, Microfinance, Natural Resources Conservation & Protection, Rural Economic Development

Mission: SELF''s mission is to provide solar power and wireless communications to a quarter of the world''s population living in energy poverty. Acting as a catalyst, SELF provides technical and financial assistance to empower these people to change their lives.

SELF believes that energy is a human right. To meet global challenges such as food and water scarcity, climate change and poverty, SELF is working to assign greater priority to the importance of sustainable energy among international development banks, aid agencies, foundations, and philanthropic individuals, who are committed to improving the health, education, and economic prospects of the world''s poorest citizens.

Results: Since 1990 SELF has completed rural electrification projects in 18 countries, including China, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Vietnam, Indonesia, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Brazil, Solomon Islands, Bhutan, Nigeria, Lesotho, and most recently in Benin, Burundi and Rwanda.  We are expanding into Haiti this year. Our projects have improved the health, education and economic opportunities of tens of thousands of people. In 2008, SELF brought electricity to 10 health centers and 3 schools and completed the initial site assessment phases for 17 additional health centers and 2 whole-village electrification projects.

Target demographics: the one quarter of humanity that lives without electricity

Direct beneficiaries per year: Each new health clinic directly benefits an estimated 10,000 rural villagers. In 2008, SELF electrified 10 health centers in Rwanda and Lesotho. SELF also brought solar electricity and Internet access to three schools in the remote Eastern Cape region of South Africa, benefitting 2,000 children and their families.

Geographic areas served: International

Programs: Seventy percent of people in the developing world have no access to electricity and are completely isolated from the modern world's wealth of resources. In communities with no electricity grid, SELF brings clean, solar power to light their homes, schools and health clinics; pump safe drinking water and irrigate their fields; refrigerate their vaccines; and power their micro-enterprise centers. We also bring wireless Internet to improve the education in their schools and diagnostics in their clinics. Our Solar Integrated Development (SID) model dramatically improves the quality of life for people at the bottom of the pyramid without contributing more greenhouse gases to global warming. Projects are funded with micro-finance. Since our founding in 1990, SELF has launched solar rural electrification projects in 18 countries: China, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Vietnam, Indonesia, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Brazil, Solomon Islands, Bhutan, Nigeria, Lesotho, and most recently in Benin, Burundi and Rwanda.

Community Stories

3 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have worked with SELF for over two years and it is hands-down the best bang-for-the-buck organization I have ever encountered. From my own interactions with SELF's solar-powered drip irrigation project in northern Benin (http://www.self.org/benin.asp), I have witnessed SELF's ability to dramatically change lives on the ground, and to implement projects in a sustainable and culture-conscious manner. Additionally, on the home-front, SELF keeps expenses low and goes to great lengths to make sure as much money as possible is going to projects that help the world's poor secure energy services, and not to administrative costs.


Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

To save the Humanity,Solar Electric Light as a source of renewable energy while honoring the integrity of indegenous cultures and respect the delicate balance of local and global ecosystem will realise our most desired improved health, education, agriculture, Industry and livelihood. Solar Electric Light will reduce carbon level in atmosphere simultaneously providing electric energy need of every house in a cost effective manner; including access to clean, disease-free water, producing organic pollution free vegetable (and thus access to pollution-free sustainable food);reading, writing and promote use of computer for education purpose.It will provide renewable energy to boost Agriculture production and productive by making the dead soil alive,besides greening the barren land to supplement crop production. Solar Energy Light will also open up new vistas for creating livelihood for millions of unemployed both in urban and rural areas.It will support building basic infrastructure especially in villages like street lighting,running of pumps for Agriculture and drinking water purpose and providing power to small scale village industries etc. It can be termed also as a life-support system contributing both to human peace and ecosystem peace- the ultimate need of the biosphere.


Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

This fantastic organization brings clean, environmentally friendly solar energy to disadvantaged communities to help power schools, health clinics, agricultural projects, and villages in third-world nations around the globe. I am amazed at what they can do on such a small budget. But, with their dedicated and expert team, they have changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Love their carbon offset program too! They rock!