Social Entrepreneur Sam Goldman Wins the 2011 Shriver Award
By Molly Mattessich on Tuesday, October 11th, 2011
Sam Goldman (Benin 01-05) turned an unfortunate incident during his Peace Corps service into a successful international company.
During Sam’s Peace Corps service in Guinagourou, Benin, the son of one of his neighbors was badly burned by a kerosene lamp (one of many thousands of such accidents around the world). After seeing the harmful effects of kerosene lamps firsthand, Sam vowed to find a way to provide people in the developing world with safer, brighter, and more affordable lighting. Upon his return to the U.S., Sam enrolled in Stanford Business School and it was there that d.light design was born.
His start-up, d.light design (www.dlightdesign.com), is an international consumer company whose mission is “to enable households without reliable electricity to attain the same quality of life as those with electricity.” The company aims to improve the lives of 100 million individuals by 2020, beginning by replacing every kerosene lantern with revolutionary energy and lighting solutions that are affordable, durable and energy-efficient.
Since founding d.light design in 2007, Sam has raised over $11 million in funding, started the India sales and marketing division, and overseen multiple product launches including the award-winning S250 and S10 solar lights. As a result of his leadership, Sam has been selected as an Ashoka Fellow and World Economic Forum Young Global Leader.
Because of the success and contributions of his innovative and successful business, Sam was selected to receive the 2011 National Peace Corps Association Sargent Shriver Award for Distinguished Humanitarian Service.
The Sargent Shriver Award is awarded by the National Peace Corps Association to a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who continues to make a sustained and distinguished contribution to humanitarian causes at home or abroad or is an innovative social entrepreneur whose actions will bring about significant long-term change. The award was named to recognize the tremendous contributions of the first Peace Corps Director, Sargent Shriver, in the founding and development of the Peace Corps.
“Sam Goldman and his colleagues at d.light exemplify the spirit of Sargent Shriver,” says president of the National Peace Corps Association, Kevin Quigley. “They are practical idealists, marrying a big goal with an even larger vision: a world with safe, clean and affordable lighting for all.”
Sam has said that “one of the most amazing phone calls” he has ever received was when the same boy who had been burned by the kerosene fire, called from Guinagourou, Benin, to tell him that he had received a d.light lantern through the Peace Corps volunteer network. “He had gotten my phone number and wanted to call personally to thank me for the light.”
In accepting the award, Sam mentioned that he first learned about Sargent Shriver when he was a Volunteer and read a story about him in NPCA’s WorldView magazine. (WorldView published a profile of Sam and d.light, “Unfailing Light,” in the Fall 2007 issue.)
The 1997 Shriver Award winner David Schweidenback, founder of Pedals for Progress and one of this year’s judges said, “The traits which brought Sam Goldman to the forefront were great ingenuity and a true global perspective.”
Sam received a $1,000 award plus paid travel expenses to Washington, DC to receive the prize at the Promise of the Peace Corps Gala, on September 24, 2011.