Here's a brief intro to Freeplay energy from their website. (

About Us / Who We Are Who We Are

Transforming lives through dependable, self-sufficient and environmentally friendly technologies

The link between poverty and the lack of access to clean, modern energy is profound. Energy for lighting and communications are basic needs – and out of reach for millions of people around the world.

A farmer listens to the radio for news of the incoming cyclone, ready to spread the alarm to her neighbours. A child, orphaned by conflict and caretaker of his younger brothers, is soothed by voices on the radio as they fall asleep at a refugee camp. With safe, renewable lighting, a midwife assists a night-time birth with no fear of fumes from hazardous kerosene or firewood. With a bright LED light, a girl studies after sundown, when her long day of chores has finally come to an end.

For many people living in poverty, radio is their lifeline, providing information that can mean the difference between life and death. Clean, safe lighting can make study possible, extend the working day for increased income and improve the quality of health care. Until recently, radios and lights were out of reach for most people in poverty – usually defined as living on less than US$1 per day. Disposable batteries are prohibitively expensive, especially for children living on their own. Kerosene, candles and firewood use more than 15% of already meagre household incomes. They cause respiratory problems and fires that destroy lives and property.

Our Solution

The Freeplay Foundation wants to change all that. Our wind-up and solar-powered Freeplay Lifeline radios provide sustainable access to information and education. Since 2003, more than 160,000 Lifeline radios have been distributed, conservatively reaching six million listeners. Our projects address the pressing needs of orphans and other vulnerable children, women, refugees and people who are ill.

To help meet the need and demand for portable clean energy sources, we are expanding into the renewable lighting sector. After conducting lighting needs assessments of vulnerable households in rural and peri-urban areas of South Africa, we are working with Freeplay Energy’s engineers to create a range of fit-for-purpose clean energy lights called ‘Lifelights’. Like the Lifeline radio, they will be powered by patented Freeplay wind-up technology or by solar power.

In addition, we have launched two pilot projects with the Weza foot-powered generator. The Weza, developed by Freeplay Energy, can power cell phones and other low energy devices. Using the Weza, we are working with communities in Rwanda and Zambia to establish self-financing small energy businesses. These entrepreneurs – mainly women – provide fee-based energy services, including cell phone charging and LED light charging and rental.

With access to information, education and light, people seize educational and economic opportunities to improve health, create jobs and advance quality of life. We are committed to act as stewards of the environment to make clean energy technologies available to those in need.

Our Mission

Our mission is to transform lives through dependable, self-sufficient and environmentally friendly technologies. We work primarily in sub-Saharan Africa with a special focus on the needs of orphans and other vulnerable children, women, refugees and people who are ill.

Freeplay Energy

In 1998, Freeplay Energy (formerly Freeplay Energy Group) established the non-profit Freeplay Foundation as an extension of its social commitment. Although other companies manufactured versions of wind-up and solar-powered radios, only Freeplay had developed patented technology within its products. Freeplay is the world leader in transferring wind-up technology to the poorest of the poor, the people least able to access the information and education that could help lift them out of poverty.

The Foundation is a wholly separate organisation from Freeplay Energy with a board of trustees and staff of development sector experts led by Chief Executive Kristine Pearson. The Foundation was registered as a charity in England and Wales in 1998. In 2001, we became recognised as a 501 (c)(3) charitable organisation in the USA, as well as a Section 21 non-profit in South Africa. Headquarters are in London, with a regional office in Johannesburg and satellite offices in the US. ©2008 Freeplay Foundation