2018 Young Entrepreneurs Awards Winner: Waliullah Bhuiyan

Initiative: Light of Hope Ltd

Country of impact: Bangladesh

A business that can fit a solar panel-powered classroom into a backpack, bringing education to thousands of Bangladeshi children with no electricity.

Around 30,000 primary schools in remote areas of Bangladesh find it hard to deliver quality classes using interactive multimedia content. It is a problem the Bangladesh government is addressing by investing in 26,000 multimedia classrooms in schools. But it has struggled to help those which are off grid.

Small enough to fit in a backpack

“Children learn best when the learning content and method are interesting, engaging and fun,” says Waliullah. His business, Light of Hope, has developed a solar-powered classroom – complete with computing stick, projector, pop-up screen and internet connectivity – small enough to fit in a backpack.

Known as Sputnique, the whole package is run off a flexible, fold-up solar panel and it weighs just 6kg so can be transported just about anywhere. Plus, teachers can take ‘live’ classes from a central location to multiple locations using the low-bandwidth video-calling software developed for Sputnique.

The idea came to Waliullah while he was working for an NGO in the wake of a massive cyclone that hit the coast of Bangladesh. In organising training sessions for farmers who had lost their crops and health awareness programmes, he was struggling to transport his bulky kit from place to place. Two years of R&D later and Sputnique was born.

Better education for 75,000 children

So far, the business – run by Waliullah, his three other co-founders and a team of 30 full-time employees – has helped provide better, more stimulating education to 75,000 children in Bangladesh.

It is also working in partnership with organisations such as Save the Children, the Sesame Workshop, UNICEF and UNESCO to deliver interactive materials to people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to access them.