Bringer Of Solar Energy To Kerosene-Dependent Wins Charles Bronfman Prize


The 2014 Charles Bronfman Prize, an annual $100,000 award for “young humanitarians whose work is inspired by their Jewish values and is of universal benefit to all people,” was given this week to Sam Goldman, founder of a San Francisco-based company that brings solar energy to millions of people around the world who are dependent on kerosene light.

Goldman’s firm, d.light design, is a “social enterprise working to bring safe and efficient solar technology to the two billion people in our world who live by the light of kerosene and lack reliable electricity,” Andrea & Charles Bronfman Philanthropies stated in its award announcement.

The decade-old prize ( was established in honor of philanthropist Charles Bronfman by his children — Ellen Bronfman Hauptman and Andrew Hauptman – together with Stephen Bronfman and Claudine Blondin Bronfman, and is selected by an “internationally recognized panel of judges.”

Goldman, a Stanford University graduate and former Peace Corps volunteer, founded d.light in 2007 to improve the lives of people in developing countries who lack access to safe, low-cost, environmentally efficient energy, earlier founded and managed several ventures in Africa. Among them: businesses that improved agriculture and construction; a for-profit NGO that cultivates the “miracle tree” Moringa oleifera and ones that distribute low-cost latrines, cook stoves and rain water catchment cisterns.

Goldman was selected as a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, and recognized by Forbes as one of the world’s top 30 social entrepreneurs.

His work with d.light, “informed by his Jewish values,” has “dramatically improve[ed] the educational opportunities for more than 8 million students, improve[ed] public health and boost[ed] the earning potential of entire populations in the developing world,” the award announcement stated. “d.light’s solar lanterns have also resulted in nearly a billion dollars in energy savings” and lessened the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by conventional forms of energy.

“In Sam,” the award announcement stated, “the judges saw a creative and compelling example of an entrepreneur who determined [that] a socially responsible for-profit model was the best way to reach the greatest number of people. Sam’s belief that we are all obligated to repair the world is expressed through his commitment to equality and social justice.”

Past recipients of the Charles Bronfman Prize include leukemia survivor Jay Feinberg, founder of the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation, and Dave Levin and Mike Feinberg, who established the KIPP network of charter schools for disadvantaged students.