“I don’t mean that d.light alone is going to be able to supply 1.6 billion people with light. But I am pretty confident that we can supply tens of millions.” With the ethic of social entrepreneurship driving d.light, Goldman is looking forward to competitors entering the market. “It’s really (about) building a network, and community of people, and starting a business mindset to solve this problem.”
D.light’s cheapest lighting system sells for about $6, but they have also have a partnership with One World Children’s Fund to donate lights to those who can’t afford them. “Our primary goal is not to return value to a shareholder, but to create social value for the world, and because we have investors who care about that, we’re able to do it.”
Goldman plans to ride one of the world’s largest economic booms, producing products for the rural poor and India’s rapidly expanding middle class. “I think we can provide not only lighting but also other devices that will meet a certain social need as well as a commercial need. So this is really the start of something much, much bigger.”
Jordana Froese, BA ’02, has known Goldman since childhood, and they were in the same residence building at UVic. “Some people take a long time to become conscious of what contribution they can make to life,” she says, “but Sam has always known that he can make a difference.” Froese says Goldman’s parents, who worked for the US Agency for International Development, gave him his ethic of helping others. Goldman concurs, adding that he was raised in numerous developing countries, including a stint of high school in Delhi.
“Part of my upbringing was, How do we develop these areas that have a lot of latent potential? So (when) I went to UVic I always knew that I wanted to get back and understand what it really means to be living at the bottom of the pyramid.” Guinagourou, with no telephones, electrical grid or running water, launched Goldman on the path to Delhi, which he says has grown almost beyond recognition since he was there as a teenager.
“I think the next 100 years or 50 years (will be) the age of India and China. When I look at what’s happening around me, India is booming; it’s an exciting time. So as a young team, spending this time here getting to know this culture and getting to understand people and be part of what’s happening—it’s just an unbelievable adventure.”
A Brighter Idea | 2