Profile: Powerful Answers Award Winner Goes Global with Mobile-Enabled Renewable Energy

Verizon is now accepting ideas for the 2015 Powerful Answers Award 

Expanding its ongoing commitment to innovation and social responsibility, we are currently accepting submissions for the chance to win up to $1,000,000 in prize money. Enter here by June 18th, 2015:


Through 10 field offices and four hubs in AfricaChinaSouth Asia and the United States, d.light has sold over 8 million solar light and power products in 62 countries, improving the lives of nearly 47 million people. San Francisco-based d.light is one-step closer to reaching its goal of providing the most reliable, affordable and accessible distributed energy solutions for developing countries and reaching 100 million people by 2020 now that it’s one of this year’s Verizon Powerful Answers Award winners.

d.light isn’t your average solar startup.

This is a company working for the social good, with a co-founder who has seen firsthand how safe, clean, bright light is desperately needed around the world.

In 2004, Sam Goldman witnessed his neighbor’s son badly burned by an overturned kerosene lamp while volunteering with the Peace Corps in Africa. It was then that he recognized the critical need for a safer and more efficient way to light homes and businesses in countries without access to safe and reliable energy. After he returned to the U.S., Goldman enrolled at Stanford, where he met Ned Tozun, and, in 2006, they officially founded d.light with the goal of bringing light to people around the globe.

Today, d.light is delivering affordable solar home and power solutions to 2 billion people in countries including Kenya, Ethiopia and India.

After learning about the Verizon Powerful Answers Award from a previous year’s winner, the d.light team was motivated to apply. Kristina Skierka, strategic advisor for d.light, said the company related especially well to Verizon’s own humanitarian approach.

“Verizon facilitates innovation and creativity, and we’re incredibly honored and excited to have been selected,” said Skierka. “We are inspired by their path to avoid doing business as usual, and focus on solving the world’s problems.”

According to d.light research, with 85 percent of energy-impoverished people living in rural areas, a wireless network is often the main infrastructure in places without gas or electricity. Out of the 1.2 billion people without electricity, 650 million live in areas where Global System for Mobile (GSM) network technology is available. d.light’s mobile-enabled distributed grid solution leverages the entire mobile industry to accelerate access. Lowering upfront costs through mobile-money (known as “Pay-As-You-Go” service) helps to speed adoption rates. The ability to offer mobile financing dramatically increases the demand of higher-end solar energy systems, which sell significantly faster with mobile financing than with cash purchases.

The Powerful Answers Award funding will help d.light build out the mobile-enabled grid in key markets, like East Africa, including essential hires and marketing tools to encourage mobile partnerships. “The opportunity that this prize has to open doors for d.light is significant,” Skierka shared. “The wireless industry has the potential to catalyze energy access through mobile-enabled technologies, and Verizon’s recognition will go a long way to firmly cement our company in the mobile community, and help attract new partners.”

For d.light, the “powerful answer” is ultimately providing clean, renewable and decentralized energy access in an affordable way. On an even larger scale, d.light hopes that winning this award will build legitimacy for distributed solutions across the world.

To learn more about d.light, please visit

Heidi Flato is a public relations manager with Verizon Wireless. Follow her on Twitter at: @VZWheidi