The goal of this DO School Challenge is for the selected Fellows to create a Green Store prototype in ten weeks.
This prototype must be sustainable in terms of materials, construction, energy, operation and other aspects and will be realized in Germany
. It should be scalable to H&M stores worldwide, be economically beneficial and make the idea of sustainability tangible for customers and employees.


By answering to the Challenge, you will have learned hands-on how to turn an idea into action during the ten-week Incubation Phase. This process is supported by participation in Challenge Lab, a course which offers the knowledge, skills, and tools necessary to successfully solve the Challenge.

Successful candidates may come from, but are not restricted to the fields of engineering, architecture, fashion and design, as well as environmental activism, retail and human resource management.


While solving the Challenge, you work on turning your own venture idea into a viable social venture plan which will be ready for implementation during the following ten-month Implementation Phase.


The DO School offers offers a unique one-year fellowship program for emerging social entrepreneurs who look for training, mentoring and empowerment to start their own ventures. Selected Fellows receive a full scholarship covering the tuition fee for the year.

From September 2013 to January 2014 the DO School invites applications from motivated individuals aged 18 to 28 from around the world to participate in the DO School Green Store Challenge. Successful applicants will show exceptional motivation to contribute to solving the Challenge and developing and starting their own social venture.

Selected Fellows will spend the first ten weeks of their one-year program on the DO School campus in Hamburg from April to June 2014, and the following ten months in their home countries implementing their own ventures.


The DO School is an innovative educational institution. We offer a unique one-year program enabling talented emerging social entrepreneurs to launch their own innovative and sustainable ventures. The program allows its participants – our Fellows – to learn from passionate peers, engage with current leaders and experts, and create change by implementing their social start-ups in their home countries.

Learn more about the DO School here.


Please click here to find out more about the Green Store Challenge  on our website and to apply!

Power for the Poor – Affordable Solar Power

10 January 2012

Men setting up solar panels in rural villageSolar power can be distributed to poor households by 2020

Poor parts of the world can be supplied with affordable solar power by 2020 through a combination of cheap technology and services provided by cell phone companies, argues Carl Pope, chairman of the US grassroots organisation Sierra Club.

Progress in technology, finance and business models is overcoming traditional barriers to getting renewable power to poor villages, he says. “The combination of dirt-cheap solar, the cell-phone revolution, and mobile phone banking has changed everything”.

Conventional grid power and fossil fuels will not reach those who need it by 2030, according to Pope, and they are becoming more expensive. But cheaper and more sophisticated new technologies create an opportunity to pull together the resources needed to finance solar power for the poor.

Cell-phone towers around the world are being converted to hybrid renewable power sources, offering phone companies a “powerful motivation to get renewable power into rural areas, to get electricity to their customers, and to charge for electricity through their mobile phone payment systems.”

Examples of innovative business models include Zimbabwe’s Econet Power, which provides its cell-phone customers with solar power at US$1 a week with bills tied to a user’s cell phone account.

Providing the poor with off-grid renewable energy requires capital to buy solar power; business models that allow households to pay for what they use, making electricity less expensive than kerosene; and supply chains and distribution networks. “The money is on the table. It’s just on the wrong plates,” says Pope.

He calls for Rio+20 negotiations to embrace distributed solar power and replace kerosene, an expensive and dirty fuel. This would save 1.5 million lives every year (kerosene emits almost as much greenhouse gas pollution as the UK economy), raise income for the world’s poorest fifth by 25–30 per cent, and create demand for expanding solar systems. And it could result in half of the world relying on renewable power, says Pope.

Link to full article in Yale Environment 360

Link to SciDev.Net’s Spotlight on Solar power for the poor

The Rio+20 Nairobi Declaration

These are the main concerns of the Kenyan youths as per the  Kenyan Youth Strategy Meeting for Rio+20 Summit held in nairobi on the 13th and 14th October, 2011 at the UN complex, Gigiri.


We, the delegates to the Kenyan Youth Strategy Meeting for Rio +20 at the United Nations Complex at Gigiri, Nairobi:

Acknowledge the African indigenous knowledge of the sacred value of the environment to biodiversity well-being.

Commit to promote innovations that will develop a green economy and promote the eradication of poverty.

Take note of the past declarations towards environmental sustainability both at the African and Global level, there is an urgent need for structural and infrastructural interventions in policy formulation, implementation and evaluation.

Recognize the current global environmental challenges, particularly climate change, which impact our common future and wellbeing, we commit ourselves to support of the following mechanisms:

  1. Good governance and transformative leadership.
  2. Promote Education, information exchange, communication and awareness
  3. Achieve sustainable agricultural practices to reduce hunger, starvation and enhance food security.
  4. Advocate for the development and implementation of sustainable development policies towards a Green Economy.
  5. Invest in and promote eco-friendly entrepreneurship and job creation.
  6. Attain sustainable green cities and villages.
  7. Promote public engagement and participation through culture and volunteerism.
  8. Promote Youth Development and capacity building

Download the Full Version of the Nairobi Declaration here: Nairobi Declaration 2

The 2nd annual Maker Faire Africa

The 2nd annual Maker Faire Africa is taking place this week in Nairobi, Kenya!

They’ve got 100+ of Africa’s most promising inventions in engineering, design and artisan crafts who will be showcasing their work. “Jua Kali” inventors and micro-entrepreneurs stand shoulder-to-shoulder with professors and artists. It’s truly a sight to behold, as anyone who took part in last year’s event in Accra, Ghana can tell you.
**When: Aug 27-28
**Where: University of Nairobi (Square outside the VC office)

If you’re in Nairobi, make sure you come by. They’ll be blogging it at both the AfriGadget and Maker Faire Africa blogs, so pop on over to both.

Solar Sisters: The Avon Lady of African Renewables

Alex Aylett, 2 Jun 10

Solar Sisters, a new solar entrepreneur program, has taken Avon’s social sales model and is using it to spread solar powered lamps across Uganda. Avon cosmetics began as a failed 19th century book-selling venture. Its “Avon Calling” approach, where saleswomen sold directly to other women, helped it grow into one of the 500 largest companies in the United States with annual global revenues of over US$10 billion.

Both energy and cosmetics have a lot to do with gender.Solar Sisters — like the Barefoot Solar Engineers that I’ve written about earlier — uses the special place that women have as procurers and managers of fuel use to take on the social, environmental and economic impacts of energy poverty.

In the developing world women are primarily responsible for gathering, purchasing and using household energy: wood, coal, kerosene or gas. Smoke from using these fuels indoors causes serious long term health problems. Poor households also spend a greater percentage of their income on energy than wealthier ones, and are charged more for energy. This unreliable and costly access to energy, especially electricity, is one of the key factors that drives migration from rural and semi-rural areas to expanding cities.

Now starting their first pilot projects, Solar Sisters approach to these issues is relatively simple: they sell two different models of solar lamps (a basic model, and a larger one that also recharges cellphones). The lamps can replace both kerosene lights and long trips into urban areas to get phones recharged. In a recent ChangeMakers article, Katherine Lucey, former banker and founder of Solar Sisters, explains the multiple benefits of the lamps:

“With solar, they don’t have to breathe in tadooba toxic fumes. When they look at the black walls of their house, they realize that if the walls are black, the inside of their lungs are black…Economically, it makes sense because within two months, they they’ll recover the cost of having to buy kerosene. This immediately frees up 20 percent of their income.”

Last year, Oxford business professor Linda Scott argued that the Avon model might even be better then microfinance when if comes to lifting women out of poverty. Initial results from research that she has been doing in South Africa show it to be more accessible than microcredit and well suited to dynamics of local communities.

Whether lessons learned from lipstick in South Africa will hold true for solar lamps in Uganda is an open question. But Lucey claims that for the female entrepreneurs working for Solar Sisters, the lamps offer a rare economic opportunity and can bring in up to US$450 a year. Solar Sisters covers the upfront costs of the women’s first solar light inventory, and they then use their earnings to purchase more inventory.

The biggest hurdle may be the price of the lamps themselves. The two models sell for US$15 and US$45. That may simply be out of reach for many families. The Solar Sisters blog discusses one community that came up with a way of collectively financing their purchases (something also done for livestock and other larger purchases).

In an interview, Lucey talks about the difficulty of convincing women to think of the lanterns as a long-term investment. It is about more than a change in thinking though. The same factors that stop women from saving money by purchasing larger quantities of kerosene or coal also apply to solar. A lack of savings, unpredictable finances and in some cases concerns over theft steer women to purchase energy (and many other daily commodities like rice and oil) in small amounts.

Solar Sisters is a promising project – and the image of solar “Avon Ladies” spreading across Africa is hard to resist. Solar Sisters is addressing the same issues as the impressive Indian Barefoot Solar Engineer program. That program’s success depended both on a clear understanding of women’s roles as energy managers and on a smart approach to financing. That second part seems to be the one thing missing from the Solar Sisters project. Before Solar Sisters really takes off, I have a feeling that they will take the lessons learned from their early clients’ community financing arrangements and build them directly into their business model.

This post originally appeared on Alex’s blog Open Alex.
Alex Aylett is a Senior Research Associate at the International Centre for Sustainable Cities and a PhD student at the University of British Columbia. He is the recipient of a Trudeau Research Scholarship and has worked as a consultant and researcher in North America and South Africa. He is currently based in Montreal. You can read his blog here.
Images from Avon and Solar Sisters.