Vote For Solar in Google’s Global Impact Challenge

Voting ends tomorrow on Google’s Global Impact Challenge, in which the public decides which of the 10 finalist projects will walk away with a £500,000 prize.

The Challenge supports non-profits based in the UK that are using technology to address the most difficult global problems. 

You can still cast your vote until 31 May (that’s tomorrow!) for the project you believe is most worthy of the £500,000 ($758,000) Global Impact Award. On 3 June a panel of judges including Tim Berners-Lee, Richard Branson and Jilly Forster will unveil the public vote, and will choose three additional non-profits as winners of the Global Impact Challenge.

Among the 10 finalists is SolarAid’s SunnyMoney project, which we wrote about back in March. Based in London and working in Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia, SolarAid aims to replace toxic and expensive kerosene lighting with cheap and safe solar lanterns throughout Africa. But SunnyMoney is a different kind of project from traditional aid: rather than subsidising its offerings, the group is working to train and support local entrepreneurs to become solar lantern salespeople and develop their own distribution networks. Moving away from dependence on grant and donor funding, SunnyMoney is a social enterprise which intends to be a financially self-sustainable distribution channel for micro-solar products in Africa.

‘If we were to be one of the lucky winners we would be able to move an extra 144,000 solar lights in rural Tanzania. That’s going to impact on over a half a million people,’ SolarAid says on its website. And Dr Jeremy Leggett, founder and chairman, said in an online post, ‘There are no other solar organisations among the finalists. We believe we’d be making a big statement for our industry if we win.’ 

The 10 finalists include: 

Task Squad, a “micro-work” programme for unemployed young people. Youth unemployment is a growing problem in Britain; one in four people under 24 is currently unemployed. Non-profit vInspired wants to connect 16-24 year olds with businesses and organisations offering small jobs, corporate errands and short-term positions. The programme is expected to provide work for 275,000 young adults over three years. 

MAKLab, which aims to establish digital fabrication facilities and manufacturing training for budding entrepreneurs. MAKLab plans to establish four additional digital fabrication outposts across the UK and coordinate training for a range of communities, with a focus on unemployed youth and entrepreneurial development. Over three years, MAKLab aims to train over 600 16-25 year olds, and support 150 small and medium enterprises.

Integrity Action, an online data collection and reporting platform. Up to 25% of aid given to war-torn countries is lost due to fraud, corruption and mismanagement, totalling £8 billion annually. The project aims to help citizens in war-torn countries to hold government and development agencies accountable. Over 18 months, Integrity Action plans to train over 2000 community monitors in seven war-torn countries and help citizens fix 50% of problems in public services and infrastructure projects.

You can see the rest of the finalists here. And remember to vote

Lead image: SolarAid 

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Tildy Bayar is a journalist focusing on the energy sector. She is a former Associate Editor on and Renewable Energy World magazine.

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