Brighter Futures with SolarBuddy

How Corporate Traveller is lighting up the lives of children experiencing energy poverty

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SolarBuddy Makes Brighter Futures

1.4 billion people around the world live with the devastating consequences of energy poverty, many of whom are children. Without electricity, families rely on dangerous fuels like kerosene and firewood for light when the sun sets. The burden to search out these fuels is usually tasked to women and children, taking young people out of school and causing indoor pollution, therefore continuing the poverty cycle.

Flight Centre Travel Group is taking action across the globe.

It started at last year’s Citizen Festival: Mandela 100, when Flight Centre gifted 6,000 SolarBuddy solar-powered lights to impoverished African students. The festival called on world leaders to critically address poverty, with the event highlighting the legacy of the host nation’s former leader, Nelson Mandela.

What is a SolarBuddy?

SolarBuddy is an Australian-based charity that donates and distributes solar-powered lights to children across the globe who live with no electricity. SolarBuddy was the brainchild of Simon Doble, who, on a camping trip in the state of Queensland, thought of the millions of refugees forced into complete blackness when the sun sets. Doble invented the small, square solar-powered unit which provides light for up to 16 hours.

“Education is a basic human right and we are proud to be partnering with the Flight Centre Foundation, Global Citizen and Adopt-a-School SA who are helping us to achieve our mission to provide safe, reliable, effective and innovative solar energy solutions to communities who suffer from the limiting effects of energy poverty.” – Simon Doble, Founder & CEO of SolarBuddy

What's next?

Since the festival in South Africa last December, the Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) has built several thousand more solar-powered lights across the globe. Here in Canada, we are working with our FCTG counterparts in the US and Mexico to strive towards the goal to effectively end energy poverty in the Dominican Republic and provide lights to all those in need, it will take approximately 84,000 SolarBuddy units. This will be a joint effort throughout FCTG Americas and is totally achievable. This means integrating SolarBuddy builds at every event, every conference, tying into promotions, work social events and more.

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Throughout the year at key events, FCTG employees assemble the solar-powered, LED lights. For example, in January of 2019, our Corporate Traveller Travel Managers built over 200 lights at a conference in Los Angeles which were promptly shipped out to the Dominican Republic. In addition to the completed SolarBuddy lanterns, each person who builds a SolarBuddy will pen a personal letter with words of encouragement to the young recipients, ranging from educational insights to their own personal plights.

We also invite our clients and travel industry partners to participate – anyone can help build the devices. The process takes approximately 10 minutes to complete a build and is a chance to discuss energy poverty and spreading the good word about the potential of the SolarBuddy.

Most recently at the Global Business Travel Association show in Toronto, our sister brand of FCM Travel Solutions built 50 lights with the help of various industry partners.

If you’re interested in learning more, you can visit the SolarBuddy website or talk to one of Corporate Traveller staff. We’ll gladly direct you to those who can assist. Additionally, through our sister brand of Flight Centre, each time a Better Beach package is booked, Flight Centre will donate a SolarBuddy to the effort in Dominican Republic (so far we have collectively sent over 3,000 to the neighbouring island). We are very excited about this opportunity and hope our clients will be, too.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela

To date, SolarBuddy has delivered 63,000 lights to 21 countries, improving more than 320,000 young lives with brighter futures.