The Dominican Republic, famous for having some of cleanest beaches in the world has an untold story: More than 9 million Dominicans live each night in a state of darkness – with roughly eight million Dominicans facing nightly blackouts and one million more living off the grid entirely. The lack of light hits people of all ages but impacts impoverished children the hardest. Many of them have to work shining shoes and washing cars after school to help their families, and do not get home until 8 or 9pm. They arrive to a dark home with no light to study with; leaving them with very little chance to break the chain of poverty.
After food, water, and shelter – light is the next basic human need … and that’s what my Dominican Co-Founder, Jacqueline Gallardo, and I are set to bring to the entire Dominican Republic. We met while I was attending UCLA Anderson, where I was looking to apply my business acumen to create a positive impact in the world. In my off time at Anderson, I read an article stating how solar lanterns are changing the daily lives of millions of people around the world. Less than a few weeks later, I was on a connector flight going to Panama when I met Jacqueline. We instantly clicked, both expressed interest in impacting the world, and I shared my findings of the solar lanterns with her.
She was shocked as the solar lanterns fit as virtually a perfect solution to the Dominican people’s deep need for light. Within a few months everything fell in place – it felt like a calling – we started our social enterprise, Esenciales J.S. SRL.