Could you imagine a person from a small village in Kenya or a 9-year old child building their own solar lamp by assembling an electronic circuit? Govinda Upadhyay did and he has turned his imagination into a reality. Swiss start-up LEDsafari has come a long way since its founder, Govinda Upadhyay, first conceived the idea. Growing up in India, Govinda was very troubled by the idea that many students are unable to study and receive proper education due to the lack of something very basic- light. The idea was to develop an affordable DIY solar lamp as a reliable and sustainable light source for children and students in electricity-scarce areas around the world.
LEDsafari undertakes training and education workshops around the world. In partnership with local NGOs, they have organised workshops in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Angola and all across rural India for economically weaker students and unemployed youth. At schools and universities in Europe and urban India, where financial means is not the primary constraint, LEDsafari also aims to integrate their hands-on approach towards renewable energy into the regular teaching curriculum, thereby raising awareness about climate action among students.
With their “One Child One Lamp” initiative, they aim to reach to 10,000 students in rural India. The “Light for Refugees” programme, which included a workshop for refugees in Milan, aims to reach 5,000 refugees and asylum seekers and to give them access to affordable and sustainable light. The training workshops have also taken firm strides into cyberspace with an online platform for e-learning programmes.
In Switzerland, LEDsafari offers special programmes for secondary schools to incorporate into their science and design curricula. They believe in the concept of learning by doing and having fun. Their programmes help students to apply theoretical knowledge in practise to make their own solar technology from scratch. Students feel like micro-engineers and teachers use these modules to simplify complex concepts such as electrical circuits, solar components, product conceptualisation and recycling.
In 2015, Forbes magazine selected LEDsafari as one of six finalists for their “Change the World” Social Entrepreneurs prize. In 2016, Govinda made it to the coveted Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe list for social entrepreneurs along with Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai. They were also the recipients of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology’s (EIT) Change Award in 2015, and of UNICEF and MIT Enterprise Forum’s Innovate for Refugees Prize in 2016 for their projects to make refugee camps safer for children by providing them light. In Asia too, Govinda’s achievements found recognition from the Asia Society.
Today, LEDsafari is at the genesis of a long journey towards lighting up the lives of those less privileged and moving towards a cleaner and more sustainable future. However, social change cannot be brought alone and is, as exemplified by their projects, a community effort.”
written by LEDsafari SA Lausanne