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Olafur Eliasson’s solar light-based project Little Sun is a work of art that works in life. With Little Sun, light becomes a vehicle to affect change in the everyday lives of people across the globe, providing a way to live independently outside the electrical grid system. Eliasson worked with engineer Frederik Ottesen to develop the Little Sun solar LED lamp in order to get clean, affordable light to the 1.2 billion people worldwide without electricity, living in ‘off-grid’ areas. Little Sun is at once a global project, a social business, and a way of connecting the world through sharing light while making solar energy accessible to everyone.

In off-grid areas the portable solar lamps supply a clean alternative to toxic and unsafe fuel-based lighting like kerosene lanterns, the smoky emissions of which cause users significant health problems. Switching from kerosene to Little Sun light at night means children can study, families can cook together, businesses can remain open, and people can socialise – safely. While promoting health, access to clean light increases productivity and enhances quality of life.

Designed in close dialogue with users in Ethiopia, Little Sun is the first solar lamp to incorporate aesthetic and practical feedback from off-grid African regions. The Ethiopian meskel flower, a national symbol of positivity and beauty, inspired the lamp’s unique design.

Little Sun is sold not only in off-grid areas, but around the world. The distribution system establishes an important connection between disparate regions: in countries with electricity, every Little Sun sold delivers one Little Sun to an off-grid African community at a locally affordable price.

As a social business, Little Sun handles its distribution in a sustainable way that benefits off-grid communities, creates local jobs, and generates local profits. Little Sun works with off-grid entrepreneurs to build their own small businesses selling Little Sun lamps, providing them with business starter kits and micro-entrepreneurial training.

An accessible introduction to the functions of solar energy made easy and personal, Little Sun is a tool educating users about energy access, utilising natural resources, and how individual action can make a global impact.