Soular Backpack won just over $3,800 after being awarded the Innovation Prize at the conference, which focuses on Governance, Youth Leadership, and Business in Africa.
@OxAfricaCon The Soular Backpack has my vote!!
— tendayi musvibe (@tmusvibe1) May 21, 2016
— OxAfrica Conference (@OxAfricaCon) May 21, 2016
“A huge thank you to the HigherLife Foundation for awarding Soular with the innovation prize at the Oxford Africa Conference this past weekend! We have some huge updates coming soon so stay tuned!” wrote Visram.
The aptly-named Soular Backpack allows kids in rural areas to leverage the power of the sun on their long walks to and from school every day. It takes an hour to charge in sun light, and provides up to five hours of light for children to study at night. This is important given that 1.2 billion people in the world are without electricity. They mostly rely on kerosene lamps, which cost money out of a family’s monthly budget (about 25 per cent, according to Visram). In fact, every day, 4,000 people around the world succumb to kerosene-induced death.
Visram created the backpack a year ago when she was in the final year of her studies at McGill University, and over the past year has worked hard to get more of these brilliant bags into the hands of Kenyan school children.
Each backpack contains a battery, an LED lamp, a solar panel and ample space for books. It costs $20 to buy, and “gives children a tool for empowerment, allowing them to take control of their own education and their own futures. As they walk to school under the African sun, they are collecting its energy in order to power their studies through the night.”
“Growing up, I witnessed poverty and saw how detrimental it could be, especially to children. I was always taught to use education to try to give back or find solutions,” Visram, 23, told MTLinTECH in March.