The BrightLight Foundation - Building a Business Plan for Solar Lamp & Cell Phone Charger Distribution (2013)

Client Organization: 
The BrightLight Foundation
Project Location : 
International - multiple pilot locations
Secondary Client Organization: 
Duke Energy
Summary of Project Idea: 

Worldwide over 1.5 billion people live without any access to electricity. In the world’s 50 poorest countries, almost 80 percent of the people lack access to electricity. They rely on firewood and kerosene for their energy supply, adversely affecting their environment, health, and personal safety and hindering their opportunities for economic progress. The Global BrightLight Foundation was established as a not-for-profit entity to provide globally accessible and affordable energy solutions to people living at the Base of the Pyramid (BoP) that currently lack access to electricity and power. Through this effort, BrightLight’s ultimate goal is to improve the education, community environment, economic opportunities and resulting quality of life of the BoP. However, to realize BrightLight’s goals, the organization required an understanding of the current state of the market, a review of current market actors, an analysis of BrightLight’s current capabilities, and a strategic analysis to position BrightLight within existing and future market dynamics.

Working collaboratively as a Masters Project team, we provided valuable input to BrightLight on the development of their social enterprise model as a facilitator delivering solar power technologies to the base of the pyramid. Using five research phases – Market Assessment, Alternative Development, Targeted Business Plan, Growth Strategy, and Thought Leadership – we researched, crafted, and delivered a detailed analysis of the current field of BoP electrification organizations, a creative business model and a detailed business plan for the Foundation , in addition to having facilitated a strategic workshop to formalize the organization’s guiding principles and objectives.

The team used a combination of primary and secondary company and academic research to develop a business case and feasible, effective chemicals management strategy.

Skills/Expertise Needed: 
  • Business plan development
  • An understanding of international NGO's challenges and operations
  • Ability to work with a cross-functional team
  • Ability to evaluate and prioritize organizations
  • Marketing expertise
SEAS Program Areas: 
Sustainable Systems
Professional Career Development Benefits: 


  • Business plan creation
  • Researching and vetting organizations
  • Developing a marketing plan for a start-up organization


  • International development
  • Solar appliance market
  • Fundraising


  • Board of  BrightLight Foundation
  • NGO contacts (specific ones depending on findings of project)
  • Duke Energy and other partner organization contacts
Funding Sources: 

Travel and other direct project expenses beyond the SNRE stipend will be covered by The BrightLight Foundation.

Identify expected products/deliverables: 

See project summary for details.

Ann Arbor
State or Country: 
SEAS Faculty Advisor: 
Scott Noesen
Contact Phone: 
Contact e-mail: 
Master Students Involved in Project: 
  • Adam Byrnes, MBA/MS Sustainable Systems
  • Emilia Sibley, MBA/MS Sustainable Systems
  • Sabrina Sullivan, MBA/MS Sustainable Systems
  • Jimmy Ward, MBA/MS Sustainable Systems
Project Status: 
Past Project