[Seminar Report] Mainichi Media Café CSR Seminar Bringing Light to People

2018.07.12 News

The Mainichi Media Café CSR Seminar "Bringing Light to People" was held on May 11, 2018. The following is a report on the seminar.

The impact of solar lanterns seen through numbers (Report by Dr. Lowell Gretebeck)

The seminar started with Dr. Lowell Gretebeck of the Japan Evangelical Lutheran Association (JELA), which facilitated the solar lantern donation to Life With Dignity (LWD) in Cambodia, sharing the results of quantitative research regarding the impacts of lantern light on the lives of recipients.


A report on the solar lantern project was presented at the "Mainichi Media Café" hosted by Tokyo Head Office the Mainichi Newspapers. From left, Akiko Asano (Panasonic), Dr. Lowell Gretebeck (JELA), Yuta Niinobe (Panasonic)

"In Cambodia, the capital Phnom Penh enjoys 100% electrification while nationwide rates remain at only 24% and people in off-grid regions live by the light of kerosene lamps and firewood.

In the study region, 53% of the population was using batteries as a source of lamp light while 39% used kerosene. In addition to the risk of fire and health hazards, these energy sources take between $4 and $7 out of a monthly income of only $72 and put a strain on household finances.

The households that received solar lantern donations used the solar lanterns an average of 3.2 hours per day and the children's study time has increased by an average of 2.2 hours per day. Household energy expenditures have dropped to between $3 and $4 every month, which means a reduction of nearly 50% in energy costs.


About 44% of the money saved is put to education and 40% to food, which have both led to better grades and health for the children. The partnership with Panasonic is a wonderful example of how non-profit and non-governmental organizations can work together with corporate CSR programs. "

First hand experience opens doors to a new world (Report from company volunteers)

Next came a report given by three Panasonic volunteer employees who traveled to Myanmar in 2017 to see for themselves how the donated solar lanterns are being used in people's lives. (See here for details of their visit)

Below are some of the slides shown at the seminar.


We traveled two hours by car from the capital Yangon, and then further down a narrow concrete road on motorcycles.


Power outage during dinner! We wouldn't have been able to see the plates had it not been for the moonlight. People often take electricity for granted, but you really realize how precious it is when it's cut off. Thanks to solar lantern, we could enjoy our meal even after power outage.


Many people told us how solar lanterns allow their children to study more at night and improve their grades.


This family told us that lantern light at night allows them to gather around the meal table and enjoy family time together.

At the end of the session, the volunteer employees talked about their goals going forward.

"Last September, six members gathered through internal recruitment went to Myanmar. We all came from different work backgrounds and positions. We visited three locations in two days. Through conversations with solar lantern users, including children studying at night, women selling local foods and teachers and students, we understood their great need for light. We were also thrilled how the lanterns are being used to help solve the challenges faced by people who live in areas without electricity. I hope to make use of this experience and contribute to people around the world." (Yuta Niinobe)

"I felt the differences between Japan and Myanmar in the awareness toward light and the role it plays. In Japan, people seek comfort whereas in Myanmar, people seek security. The demands vary depending on the region. I hope to be a person that keeps a clear sight of how people want to use light and how a product is perceived overseas, and use this insight to propose and create what is really needed locally." (Akiko Matsuo)

"I design and develop TVs. I volunteered out of my desire to apply this experience in product development. Solar lanterns come with a long power cord, which means that they can be kept inside the house even if the solar panel is set on the roof to charge. We interviewed local engineers and learned that the cord was made long to reduce the risk of theft. This visit has made me realize once again how important it is for engineers to be aware of local needs." (Hironobu Kume)


From left: Yuta Niinobe, Akiko Matsuo, Hironobu Kume

From Panasonic: We will continue to deliver "AKARI (light)"

Though the Panasonic 100 Thousand Solar Lanterns Project ended in January 2018, two new projects have started this year. The first is the "Off-Grid Solutions Project." This project aims to empower local communities through donations of larger power supply stations and educational programs.

The other project is the "Bringing Light to People" project that will conduct crowd funding from the general public and call for donations of used books and compact discs to deliver light to off-grid areas.

We will continue our efforts in empowering local people to advance their own development.