Little Sun for Africa

by | Dec 5, 2019

How a small solar lamp changes people’s lives.

Little Sun is a global social business model project launched by artist Olafur Eliasson and engineer Frederik Ottensen in 2012. 1.1 billion people worldwide have no access to electricity. This fact led the two to develop the Little Sun solar lamp. A small sun with a solar element on its back. The product offers design and functionality and of course an important message.

The idea and the benefit

It started as a humble idea. A small, portable solar lamp for people without electricity in Ethiopia was to be developed. Today it has become a global project. A project that has changed over two million lives through the awesome power of the sun (see our global impact).

Little Sun’s social business was founded in 2012 by artist Olafur Eliasson and engineer Frederik Ottesen at London’s Tate Modern. The project brings clean, reliable and affordable energy to the 1.1 billion people in the world who live without electricity. At the same time, it raises awareness of energy access and climate protection worldwide.

Where the small sun unfolds its effect

Little Sun Licht brings solar energy to more than 10 African countries, including Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Kenya, Senegal and Ghana – with many more to come. To date (as of December 2018), the venture has distributed a total of 838,308 Little Suns worldwide. Of these, over 510,844 lamps went to areas without power. And that number is growing rapidly.

The founders don’t just want to bring solar energy to people living off the grid. They also want to inspire enthusiasm for renewable energy, climate protection and sustainability everywhere else in the world. For example, in museums, at fashion shows, or even in schools, camping supply stores and at UN climate conferences. Little Sun wants to draw attention to the importance of saving resources and protecting the environment.

Little Sun lamps are not a donation

In order to support the local economy in Africa, the solar lamps are not given away. If the local lamp vendor can’t sell anything because non-profit organizations are giving away the same or better quality products, the economic development of a country suffers greatly. Little Sun would rather see jobs created and educational opportunities facilitated. Salespeople receive business training and marketing materials. The organisation provides the lamps at cost price and thus ensures that light reaches the most remote regions. A win-win for everyone! There are also countless collaborations with governments, schools and projects to bring the life-changing lamps to the people who need them.

Little Sun family grows

In addition to the Little Sun, there is also a solar charger. The Little Sun Charge, the solar-powered phone charger, is very popular in Africa. Because local people all have cell phones, but often only expensive and distant ways to charge them.

The Little Sun Diamond product has been available since September 2017. It serves the same purpose as the Little Sun Original, but is meanwhile a further development. The lens is larger, which means more light, plus there’s a handy stand and less plastic has been used. The Little Sun contains 70 grams of plastic, the diamond less than 20 grams.

Ikea also gets in on the act

IKEA has teamed up with Ólafur Elíasson’s label Little Sun to create a collection of solar energy storage units. The collection is called “Sammanlänkad”. “Sammanlänkad” is currently still in the prototype stage, but is expected to be available in all IKEA stores from 2021. You can then buy hand-sized, circular energy storage devices that can be used as a light source or to charge smaller electronic devices. During daylight hours, the modules can be hung in the window to recharge their batteries.

Discover Little Sun’s projects:

(Sources:;!165028/ (Author: Nicola Schwarzmaier); (Author: Josefine Köhn-Haskins); (Author: Clara Westhoff))

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