Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charity organisation of billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg, has announced a $5 million investment in Little Sun, an artsy-looking solar-powered lamp designed to provide clean and affordable energy to off-grid populations in Africa who depend mainly on kerosene lamps.

The investment which will be provided through a low-interest loan from the foundation marks its first support to a social business. It will help Little Sun expand its production and distribution networks in targeted markets.

Currently available in eight sub-Saharan African countries including Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Senegal, South Africa and Zimbabwe; the hand-held solar-powered lamp which lasts two to three years before needing a new battery was created by Engineer Frederik Ottesen and Danish artist Olafur Eliasson who is best known in New York for his 2008 public-art installation comprising four artificial waterfalls around the city.

According to Little Sun Company, the lamp can save households as much as 90 percent over three years compared to what they spend on kerosene.

While pointing out that breathing kerosene fumes for four hours is equivalent to smoking 40 cigarettes, Little Sun Managing Director and CEO, Felix Hallwachs notes that “Today, seven out of 10 people lack access to even the most basic electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

To this end, “The impact investment from Bloomberg Philanthropies will help us reach our goal of providing clean energy to homes, schools and local businesses, replacing toxic kerosene lamps everywhere we work. We consider access to clean, safe and sustainable energy a fundamental human right,” Hallwachs said.

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