Two Glasgow students are giving African children the opportunity for a brighter future through a phone charger start-up
Social entrepreneurs Jeremie Warner, 27, and Stephen Spiers, 25, are the brains behind the wee PAL power bank, a portable charger for phones and gadgets.
In keeping with the giving back philosophy, for every charger bought, the company gives a solar light free of charge to a child in an African Government school.
The lights enable children without electricity the chance to study at night, helping them work towards a better education that can lead to more opportunities in later life.
Around 10 million children in sub-Saharan Africa drop out of primary school every year, according to UNESCO, while 85 per cent of the population have no access to electricity.
The idea for the wee PAL was first developed when the pair were researching sustainable development during their ongoing PhDs at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.
Using business as a means to make a difference in the world, the students worked directly with impoverished communities, empowering people with the tools to lift themselves out of poverty.
“We want to offer a hand-up rather than a hand-out”, Jeremie explains.
After travelling to West Africa to work with rural villages struggling with poverty, Jeremie and Stephen discovered that one of the biggest issues facing children doing well in school is the ability to do homework at night.
“We ran a photography workshop with 60 children from local schools and set them loose with a bunch of cameras. The photos they took gave us a real insight into their lives. What stood out most to us was no photos were taken at night due to the lack of light” he adds.
“Faba, a teacher at one of our partner schools, said there was a huge difference in exam results between students who had light to study and those who didn’t”.
Once duo landed back in Glasgow, the work on PAL began.
Jeremie says: “Power a life is pretty simple - you charge, they study. We use a buy-one, give-one model. One for one. The lights are charged by the sun and provide a 3-5 hours of safe light at night, empowering children with the tools they need to study more and achieve a brighter future. We’re working with teachers to measure the positive impact of our first 100 hand-delivered lights.”
The finished product comes in at £25 and is a lightweight, portable PAL charger. The device can charge an iPhone 6 in 1.5 hours and can be used to power up anything that’s charged via USB such as game controllers and Bluetooth speakers. PAL can be purchased here.