Author Archives: LuminaidLab

Notes from the Field: Katenge School, Uganda

The latest update in our Notes from the Field series comes from Mr. George Babatye, who manages ChildFund’s Uganda Office.  Mr. Babatye helped LuminAID customer Dave distribute LuminAID lights to the children of the Katenge School in Uganda.  Dave sponsors a little girl named Edisa at the school, and sent her a LuminAID light.  Dave then worked with LuminAID and ChildFund to send more lights to her school in Uganda.


The children received lights and brought them home to their families, where they helped reduce the usage of dangerous kerosene lamps.  Mr. Babatye writes:

“the children use the light for reading and other general household work like using it while cooking, bathing at night, preparing the beds. …Families testified that they can now access light for longer periods which was not the case before since sometimes they would be in darkness due to lack of kerosene. In a month many families said they now save up to about 2 liters which is about 5000 shillings i. e 2 dollars per family which is used on other necessities like soap, sugar, salt. Other families reported that they will progressively save and use the savings on fees and purchase of hens and goats for rearing so that in future, their children get fees. The beauty with the light is that it is moveable and can be used even under the rain, wind which is very common in these parts of the world.”

2014_12_17_ChildFundDave(left) Edisa receives her light   (center) Edisa with her father  (right) Edisa speaks about LuminAID lights to her classmates and community members
Thank you to Dave, George, and Edisa for helping bring light to the children of the Katenge School and their families!  

Learn more about ChildFund and the work they do to support children around the world here:

Do you have a relationship with a charity that could use lights to do good?  Contact for more information on our Give Light, Get Light program and the subsidies that we provide for charities and fundraisers.

Notes from The Field: Rajany Matthew, Peace Corps Volunteer in Madagascar

We are excited to introduce the next installment in our new series, Notes from the Field, dedicated to guest bloggers who have taken and distributed LuminAIDs in parts of the world where people lack stable access to electricity.  This installment will feature Rajany Matthew, a peace corps volunteer in Madagascar. We are excited to stay in touch with her as she distributes LuminAIDs to the silk weavers she works with as part of our Give Light, Get Light program and to learn more about how LuminAID lights can play a role in improving people’s lives and livelihoods. Thank you to Rajany for helping to spread LuminAID’s mission to provide access to clean and safe lighting to all!


Within my community, the lights have been given to my silkweavers, who have no electricity in their homes. They use looms to weave beautiful silk scarves and have difficulty doing so after the sun goes down. Currently, they spend a lot of money on candles (which they really cannot afford) in order to work when there is no sunlight. With LuminAID lights, they will be able to continue their work in the evenings to create scarves to sell and feed their families.

(Right) Rajany learning to weave.     (Left) Two silkweavers with their LuminAIDs and looms.

Landy Voajanahary (‘Natural Silk’) is a group made up of 40 silk weavers, both men and women, who have been weaving silk for generations in the small, rural towns of Fonohasina (which means ‘to be wrapped in holiness’) and Kelifaritra (‘small town’). We are located on one of the 12 sacred hills of the Merina tribe and our ancestors were the silk weavers for the royal king of Madagascar. We mainly weave silk scarves, but are currently working on developing other products with silk. The art of silk weaving is a beautiful and rare art, and we believe that our talents should be shared with others through expanding our business overseas. There are multiple steps in the art of silk weaving – from the worm to the scarf. The silk weavers get the cocoons, boil them, wash them, spin the thread, dye the silk, and then weave the scarf. The whole process can take anywhere from 1-3 weeks.


LuminAID lights are a hit with the Landy Voajanahary!

Our towns are very small and there is no electricity or running water. There is also no typical day here in Madagascar. However, some routines that occur every day, are getting up before the sun rises, fetching water, feeding the animals (chickens, pigs, geese) and taking the cows out to graze, spending all morning and most of the afternoon working on making silk scarves. Once the sun goes down, everyone lights up their candles and continue working or doing day-to-day activities. The LuminAID lights have been incredibly beneficial to the weavers as they no longer spend most of their hard-earned money on candles and are able to work in the evening carefree since they have a reliable source of light. LuminAID lights have provided a sustainable, durable, and reliable source of light for the weavers to keep their business going and helping them generate income for their families and their community.


LuminAID is Named Up-and-Comer Winner at 13th annual Chicago Innovation Awards

LuminAID is honored to have been named one of the Up-and-Comer winners of the 13th annual Chicago Innovation Awards!  The winners were announced last night at Chicago’s Harris Theater on Thursday, October 30, with nearly 1,500 business and civic leaders attending. The Chicago Innovation Awards, celebrating its 13th year, is the Chicago region’s foremost recognition of the most innovative new products or services brought to market or to public service each year.

“Chicago is an innovation hub with talented business leaders who have the vision to see things differently and set themselves apart from the competition,” said Tom Kuczmarski, co-founder with Chicago journalist Dan Miller of the awards. “Every winner of the Chicago Innovation Awards embodies this mindset, and each one has found a unique way to solve a previously unmet need in the market.”

“We are honored to receive the Up and Comer Award from the Chicago Innovation Awards and be recognized in our hometown for contributing to the safety of our community and our consumers,” said Andrea Sreshta, co-founder of LuminAID. “We’re already planning new innovations using this unique technology in an effort to continue to contribute to Chicago’s vibrant entrepreneurial community.”

“With more than 550 nominees received this year, it is clear that Chicago continues to rise as a global center of innovation. This region has become a magnet for attracting the capital and talent needed to fuel even more innovation activity and economic growth,” said Luke Tanen, Executive Director of the Chicago Innovation Awards.

The complete list of this year’s Chicago Innovation Award winners can be found at

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Notes from the field: Alle Kamela, Peace Corps Volunteer in Madagascar

LuminAID is excited to start a new series, Notes from the Field, dedicated to guest bloggers who have taken and distributed LuminAIDs in parts of the world where people lack stable access to electricity. The more than 8,000 LuminAID lights that have been donated and distributed in projects in over 15 countries would not have been possible without the partnerships with organizations and volunteers who have helped us to distribute LuminAID lights to those in need. Our first series will feature Alle Kamela, a peace corps volunteer in Madagascar. Alle first used LuminAID lights on her own travels and in her home in Madagascar. She then wrote to us about her project in Madagascar and how she thought LuminAID lights could be of great use in the community where she is working. We are excited to stay in touch with her as she distributes LuminAIDs to those in her village as part of our Give Light, Get Light program and to learn more about how LuminAID lights can play a role in improving people’s lives on a daily basis in the village. Thanks again Alle, for helping to spread LuminAID’s mission to provide access to clean and safe lighting to all!

Alle and the community she is serving in Madagascar

Alle and the community she is serving in Madagascar

I live and work on the East Coast, where banana trees line river ways.  It is humid and tropical, with plenty of fresh fruits and fish. 

A native of Takoma Park, MD, just outside Washington, DC, I was raised in a diverse place, giving me an appreciation for all people.  I realized the intrinsic beauty in discovering new ways of life at a young age, as I moved over 20 times in my childhood.  The practice I gained adapting to new places and making new friends as a child has been key to my success integrating in my Peace Corps site, Ilaka Est. 

In my first year of service, I held a community-wide World AIDs Day and Soccer Tournament, Malaria Day Festival, and ran Youth and Girls’ Clubs.  Now I’m transitioning to a Nutrition Project, complete with household garden and healthy cooking demonstrations.

I speak a coastal dialect of Malagasy language when conducting Monthly Trainings with the local Doctor to improve Mother and Child Health services delivered to remote villages by Community Health Workers.  The CHWs, all volunteers, provide education and consultations to families of children under 5, sell medicine, and administer Malaria tests.  They live up to 20K away from the Health Clinic in town, so they serve as immediate responders.  They help sick people 24 hours a day, in towns without electricity, so they use kerosene lamps.  LuminAID’s donation will provide clean, renewable light to volunteers serving their own communities, which will positively impact the entire population, in a ripple effect.

You can read more about my work at

Misaotra Betsaka, Thank You from everyone in Ilaka!

LuminAID in India & Women in the World

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This past January, co-founder Andrea made a trip to Pennular village outside of Chennai, India, where LuminAID hosted past Give Light, Get Light projects. In conjunction with a group of engineering students from Sri Venkateswara College of Engineering, we distributed LuminAID lights to primary school students.
We are honored to visit schools and projects on the ground. It is notable to see the challenges that students around the world face, such as power cuts which affect studying at night and make it difficult for young women to stay in school. We hope to mitigate such challenges through sustainable solar-powered lighting.
LuminAID was recently honored as one of the 2014 Mothers of Invention by Toyota USA Women in the World. We had an amazing experience at the summit in New York, and are so grateful and humbled to be named among the world’s leading inventors and change-makers.
As we have seen ourselves since our trip to India, young women around the world face a lot of challenges. We see the importance of good lighting for safety, education, and general wellbeing, and strive to continue distributing lights to those in need!
Watch the Women in the World feature here.



LuminAID Attends White House Maker Faire


On Wednesday, June 18, LuminAID co-founder Andrea had the honor of attending the first ever White House Maker Faire. Hosted by President Obama, the event featured Makers, innovators, and entrepreneurs of all ages and showcased the nation’s latest technological and scientific advancements.

LuminAID had an incredible time speaking at the event. Andrea talked about how we made the first LuminAID prototypes with handheld heat-sealers, radio shack batteries, and all different types of solar panels.

By now we’ve re-told our story to press and media, but it’s nice to revisit the time when we were students making our prototype in the kitchen, and remember where it all started. We hope to continue to have fun experimenting with ideas, making things by hand, and perhaps most importantly, affect positive change through our inventions.

This was the second time LuminAID has been represented at the White House. LuminAID’s founders have also been contributors to the White House Blog. You can check out their articles here and here.


Give the Gift of Light!


With the holiday season coming up, LuminAID is proud to announce its holiday campaign, “Give the Gift of Light!” Buy LuminAID lights for yourself, friends, and family, while also donating matching lights to those in-need around the world. We are partnering with Pencils of Promise (Ghana), CAN-DO (Haiti), Responsible Charity (India), and various organizations in the Philippines.

Each light comes with a custom tribute card that says how many lights you donated and the name of the organization you picked to receive the matching lights. Your purchase will cover the cost of one light that will be sent to you, as well as the donation of one LuminAID light and all associated shipping and distribution costs.

Over the past year, LuminAID has distributed more than 5000 lights across projects in 15 countries. We are so grateful for the support of our fans and hope to send many more lights over the holiday season!

LuminAID Partners with ShelterBox


LuminAID is excited to announce its new partnership with ShelterBox!

ShelterBox is an international disaster relief charity that provides shelter and relief aid to victims of natural and other disasters. Each ShelterBox is equipped with a tent, tool kit, stove, cooking utensils, blankets, water storage and purification equipment, and other items vital for survival. Most recently, ShelterBox has been working to send aid to over 4,500 families in Syria, Iraqi Kurdistan, Lebanon, and Jordan.

We are excited about this partnership, as it is our mission to have solar lighting commonly integrated into disaster relief aid through smart product design. In fact, it was organizations like ShelterBox that we had in mind when designing the LuminAID, making sure to create a light that was compact, lightweight, and easy to pack and distribute.

We look forward to working with ShelterBox and expanding our disaster relief efforts. It is our goal to make sustainable lighting a reality for all, especially during crises and disasters.

LuminAID “Likes for Lights” Facebook Campaign


LuminAID is proud to announce its “Likes for Lights” Facebook campaign, lasting throughout July and August. For every 10 “likes” our Facebook page receives, 1 LuminAID light will be donated to a partner organization, to be distributed to students and families in need.

LuminAID is partnering with Responsible Charity, Solar Sister, Pencils of Promise, Operation Outreach Afghanistan, Ubushobozi, and the Nepali Children’s Education Project. Each organization will be featured on certain days of the campaign, with daily “likes” corresponding to the number of lights they receive. Our goal is to reach 10,000 likes, or 1,000 donated lights, by the end of the summer.

We are so excited to continue distributing lights to schools, villages, and families around the world and appreciate the continued support of our fans. Help spread the light by liking our page here!