SBC101 case

Energy poverty and how social innovation can help solve it

Energy poverty is a pervasive problem that affects millions of people around the world, particularly in developing countries. This issue arises due to the lack of access to reliable and affordable energy sources, which can have far-reaching implications for individuals, communities, and entire nations. In this essay, we will explore the issue of energy poverty in the world, why we should care, and what can be done to ensure universal access to energy. We will also examine the role of third sector societies, civil societies, and social innovation in addressing this issue, with a particular focus on the organization Litro de Luz Colombia and its impact on the 1710 communities that still light themselves with candles.

Energy Poverty in the World:

Energy poverty is a significant problem that affects over one billion people worldwide, with the majority of them living in developing countries. It is a condition in which individuals lack access to reliable and affordable energy sources, such as electricity and clean cooking fuel. The lack of energy sources has far-reaching implications for individuals and communities, including limited educational opportunities, reduced access to healthcare services, and restricted economic opportunities. According to the International Energy Agency, energy poverty is a critical barrier to sustainable development and a severe impediment to reducing global poverty.

Why Should We Care?

The issue of energy poverty should concern us all, regardless of where we live or our economic status. This is because it affects individuals, communities, and entire nations, and has far-reaching implications for sustainable development, poverty reduction, and economic growth. When individuals lack access to reliable and affordable energy sources, they are unable to participate fully in the modern world, limiting their potential for growth and development. This has implications for all of us, as we live in an interconnected world where the wellbeing of one person can impact the wellbeing of others.

What Can Governments Do to Ensure Universal Access to Energy?

Governments have a critical role to play in addressing the issue of energy poverty. They can do this by implementing policies and programs that expand access to reliable and affordable energy sources, particularly in developing countries. Some of the strategies that governments can use to ensure universal access to energy include:

Investing in energy infrastructure: Governments can invest in energy infrastructure such as power grids, transmission lines, and renewable energy sources to expand access to reliable energy sources.

Subsidizing energy costs: Governments can provide subsidies to individuals and communities to reduce the cost of energy, making it more affordable and accessible to those who need it most.

Implementing energy efficiency programs: Governments can implement energy efficiency programs to reduce energy consumption and improve access to energy for those who are most vulnerable.

Strengthening regulatory frameworks: Governments can establish strong regulatory frameworks to ensure that energy companies provide affordable and reliable energy services to all communities, particularly those in rural and remote areas.

What Are Third Sector Societies, Civil Societies Doing?

Third sector societies, also known as civil society organizations, have a critical role to play in addressing the issue of energy poverty. These organizations operate independently of governments and the private sector and are focused on promoting social welfare and development. Some of the strategies that third sector societies can use to address energy poverty include:

Advocacy: Civil society organizations can engage in advocacy efforts to raise awareness about the issue of energy poverty and to put pressure on governments and other stakeholders to take action.

Capacity Building: Civil society organizations can work with local communities to build their capacity to access and use energy resources effectively.

Partnerships: Civil society organizations can collaborate with governments, the private sector, and other stakeholders to develop and implement solutions to energy poverty.

Social Innovation: Civil society organizations can develop innovative solutions to energy poverty by utilizing new technologies and business models that are tailored to the needs of local communities.

Litro de Luz Colombia is a solar energy company that is working to address energy poverty in Colombia. The organization is providing access to sustainable energy solutions to marginalized communities in Colombia. They are working to install solar-powered lights in homes and schools in these communities to provide access to lighting, which is essential for education and healthcare. The organization is also working to provide training and support to help these communities maintain their energy infrastructure and promote sustainable development providing low-cost internet access and energy for the most vulnerable families.

According to a publication by the newspaper El Tiempo, there are 1710 communities in Colombia that still light themselves with candles. ( These communities are located in remote and rural areas where traditional energy infrastructure is not available. The lack of access to energy has serious consequences for these communities, including limited educational opportunities, restricted access to healthcare services, and reduced economic opportunities. It is crucial for the Colombian government to work with organizations like Litro de Luz Colombia to provide access to sustainable energy solutions in these communities.

Social innovation is a solution to energy poverty because it allows for the development of new and innovative solutions to address this problem. Social innovation involves developing new models, systems, and technologies that are socially and environmentally sustainable. These solutions are often developed by civil societies, third sector societies,

Litro de Luz is a project that since its inception has been focused on a completely neglected sector of the population which has been forgotten by both, the State and the private sector. Communities in extreme poverty have been stigmatized for years, depriving them of solutions to solve their problems or contribute to their development.

Since the creation of ELISA, the purpose was to provide it with qualities that would break this paradigm, this is how ELISA responds to deliver a solution capable of providing Energy, Light, that was Inclusive, Sustainable and Affordable. Once this achievement was reached, we challenged ourselves as a team to come up with something new in order to increase the impact and benefit in the communities to close the digital divide and that is how in 2015 ELIoT was born.  This product, like ELISA responds to deliver Energy, Light and integrate Internet of Things to offer digital literacy solutions thanks to our offline content delivery software. Enhancing the ability to store content of any kind and its deployment of wireless internet networks in areas where before Litro de Luz was unthinkable and impossible.

“The higher purpose of Litro de Luz is to be light to the world”