1 Mar 2012 - by A4ID

Environmentally friendly energy for the developing world

Lack of access to electricity isn’t just an inconvenience but a serious barrier to development. But legal support from A4ID is helping one NGO effectively address this problem across Africa.


1.4 billion people in the developing world live without electricity. In half a dozen African countries, less than one person in twenty has ready access to electrical power.

This situation acts as a serious barrier to development: while the rest of the world enjoys light, heat, sanitation and ever improving communications, poorer communities remain powerless.

Powering forward

ToughStuff International is a social enterprise that aims to provide affordable solar-powered products to consumers in the developing world. Focusing on what individuals need the most they supply lighting, mobile phones and radios.

These products are inexpensive and environmentally friendly, replacing costly and environmentally damaging alternatives such as kerosene lamps and batteries.

The products not only allow individuals to enjoy a better quality of life but can help with access to basic services such as healthcare and education.

A4ID and ToughStuff overcoming hurdles

ToughStuff wanted to make its products available as widely as possible. However, many of the hurdles it began to come across were legal: establishing itself legally as a brand and trader, making contracts with suppliers and manufacturers, and setting up trade agreements within each country. This is where A4ID came in.

Since 2009, A4ID has brokered a variety of free legal services for ToughStuff through our legal partners. Roger Hattam from ToughStuff International said, ‘The lawyers A4ID partnered us with were helpful and attentive, taking the time to explain the commercial implications of the legal decisions that TSI were making.’

Work done by our legal partners includes advice on how to register its trademark and protect its brand internationally; assistance with writing a clear, effective contract with a supplier in China; and help in negotiations with an Angolan entity which became ToughStuff’s sole distribution agent in the country.

Award-winning stuff

Although ToughStuff only began trading in 2009, it has already sold more than 100,000 solar power kits benefiting 380,000 low income consumers in Eastern and Southern Africa. ToughStuff’s products have also been distributed to people living in temporary camps in Haiti following the earthquake.

It was named Tech Awards Laureate 2010: one of the world’s top humanitarian accolades, which recognises ToughStuff’s innovative technical solutions for critical development problems. ToughStuff was also announced Winner of the 2010 British Energy and Environment Awards, and of the 2011 Ashden Award for Sustainable Energy, as well as helping hundreds of thousands of people gain access to a commodity so many take for granted; power.