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The Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society


Lighting Up Children’s Future with INSEAD’s Project Shine On


The Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society

Lighting Up Children’s Future with INSEAD’s Project Shine On

Lighting Up Children’s Future with INSEAD’s Project Shine On

We explore the journey of INSEAD’s home-grown Project Shine On, and look at their future plans of continuing to combine sustainable energy with social impact. Project Shine On was one of seven online sessions held during SDG Week 2020.

An estimated 1.2 billion people globally lack access to electricity – but what does that actually mean for the people behind the statistic? It means reshuffling their whole day to work around daylight, and finding alternative ways to access necessities like heat, running clean water, toilet facilities and being able to study. The lack of sustainable and affordable energy results in insufficient education opportunities for disadvantaged children.

Looking to apply their knowledge to create a positive social impact, some of the INSEAD MBA 18D students began to ideate. Eventually, with support from the Student Life team, and Degree Programmes’ Assistant Director, Fergus Kennedy, Project Shine On was born in November 2018. Motivated by the drive to create something meaningful, the students, staff and alumni made their way to Sapang Palay for 3 days to fund, and install solar panels for Assumption Development Foundation – a school in rural Philippines striving to educate 11 to 17 year olds within the community, in hopes of breaking the poverty cycle. The installation was completed in May 2019.


With the installation of the solar panels, the school was able to enjoy lighting outside after dark for the first time – making it convenient for the community to comfortably continue activities after sunset. While there was some access to electricity prior to the installation, inadequate availability and frequent brown outs with reduced and unreliable electrical power, were not uncommon. The solar lights eliminated this inconvenience, and the school was able to install an air conditioner in the classroom for the first time.

Furthermore, the INSEADers were able to add light to the lives of 30 additional students in the form of scholarships. In the process of raising funds for the solar panels, they were able to collect excess donations, all of which were utilised to provide education to students who displayed an aptitude for studying but who were unable to otherwise afford it.

While the global pandemic put a pause on Project Shine On, the initiative has continued planning into the future to grow their impact within Asia, with their possible 2021 project with Philippine-based enterprise, PeoplePods. Founded by an INSEAD alumnus, PeoplePods provides safe, clean and affordable living space for women employees. The 2020 pandemic not only put the project on hold, it also highlighted the challenge of raising funds during a global health crisis to keep Shine On's momentum going.


“Having the opportunity to collaborate with INSEAD clubs, alumni, students and staff made this project extremely fulfilling for me,” said Kennedy. “There is huge interest from all of those stakeholders on sustainability and this project delivers that on many levels. The challenge now is to make the project itself sustainable. We have ambitions to take it to other countries and continents and donations or sponsorship are key to achieving this.”

The action of installing solar panels may be a one-time event, but the positive results carry well into the future. Many of the students from the Assumption Development Foundation have eventually gone on to become doctors and engineers, and actively get involved in giving back to the community. By bringing solar panels to the school, this will hopefully increase the number of students that are able to achieve the same, and inspire the children to continue to shine on.

Keen to contribute to the Project Shine On initiative? Visit their fund-raising page. Also check out our story about harnessing solar energy in Rwanda.


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