Becky Barber, a student at the University of Plymouth in the UK, may only be 22 years old, but she’s got a big vision for Madagascar: the Solar Powered Bamboo Radio, which recently helped her win the Social Enterprise Award at the University’s Business Ideas Challenge, along with £250 ($364.00) and a comprehensive support package to go along with it.
Barber’s parents have lived in Madagascar doing charity work for the past 26 years, so she has a first hand view of the challenges people face there. “Over two thirds of the population exist below the poverty line, earning around £1 per day,” she said, in a statement. “So I have been really motivated to develop a project that would use the education I have been lucky enough to enjoy, and the resources of the University, to provide opportunities for those not so lucky.”
The Solar Powered Bamboo Radio apparently uses plentiful, lightweight and tough bamboo to house an inexpensive solar-powered radio. Barber has developed two models – a desktop version and a portable one constructed from hand-woven reeds – with the intention of producing them in Madagascar and providing a much-needed sustainable cottage industry. She plans to work with a variety of interested charities to sell these radios both in Madagascar (where they’ll be used to improve communication between villages, among other applications) and also in England, where they will retail at a higher price to help provide the capital to fund further social enterprise projects. (Interested in more designs that take on challenges in the developing world? Check out some of the new tech being developed for Africa.)
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