Pretty much anyone who is related to my business partner Ned Tozun has received the same Christmas gifts from him and his wife for the last two years: solar lights. 

In 2008, they received the Nova; in 2009, it was the Kiran. This year it will probably be the S250. (Trust me, I am not ruining any surprises by saying that.)

 

While it’s a bit amusing to think of the collection of solar lights that are now populating various homes in the US–where electricity is definitely not a problem–they have certainly been put to good use. Some have taken the lights camping. Parents have used them to demonstrate solar power to their children, and teachers have brought the lights into their classrooms to demonstrate clean energy. Others keep them in their home or car for emergency purposes. 

 

During the occasional blackouts in the US, we even get some converts: Loved ones who previously didn’t quite get what d.light has been up to all these years suddenly understand why light and energy are so important, and are grateful for a d.light to get them through the night.

 

While the gifting of d.light products to family and friends may seem like a cop-out for a social entrepreneur who has no time to do Christmas shopping, I can assure you that there’s more to it than that.

 

There is no better way to say "thank you" to all those who have supported the work of d.light and us as individuals than to give them a tangible reminder of what their support has enabled: Over two million lives in over 40 countries changed for the better; hundreds of thousands of families free from dangerous and expensive kerosene and able to experience safe, bright light every night. 

 

While we are ecstatic over what we’ve been able to accomplish, the reality is that it has been a long, tough road to get to this point. We would not be here today without the help of many family members, friends, mentors, partners and supporters. Whether or not you receive an S250 from one of us this year, you are deeply appreciated. You have inspired and sustained us, and your passion to change the world for the better has played a key role in pushing us forward.

 

As we enter a new year, we will continue to need your support. We have big things in store for 2011: new products, deeper penetration into existing markets and continued expansion into more countries.

 

We often have individuals coming to us, asking us how they can volunteer or otherwise support the work of d.light in tangible ways. One of the downsides of being a for-profit social enterprise is that we don’t have many opportunities for volunteer engagement. But during this holiday season, there are two meaningful ways in which you could support us:

 

1) Give a donation to help us light up an entire district in East Timor. The families who will receive the lights are extremely poor and are still suffering from years of war. They have no electricity and no means with which to purchase solar lanterns without financial assistance. Please donate today and help us reach our goal of raising $35,000.

 

2) Purchase a d.light product for yourself or to give to a loved one. The new D.LIGHT S250 is now available for purchase on Amazon in the US and UK; the D.LIGHT S10 is also available on Amazon in the US and UK. (If it says that the product is out of stock, it just means that we have temporarily sold out but will be replenishing the supply soon!) Every d.light product that is purchased directly supports our work. 

 

On behalf of the entire d.light family, I want to thank you for your support, and to wish all of you a wonderful holiday season full of hope and bright cheer!