Solution Overview & Team Lead Details

Our Organization


What is the name of your solution?

SolarFi Bliss Power Pod

Provide a one-line summary of your solution.

Innovative resilient solutions enhancing clean power and internet during natural disasters and state of emergency

What specific problem are you solving?

SolarFi is working to solve the problem of maintaining access to healthcare and building health system resilience in fragile contexts, as outlined in the MIT Solve Challenge. Specifically, SolarFi Bliss is a solution designed to provide energy-autonomous, mobile, and flexible solar pods to support emergency response efforts in post-disaster impact zones. The pods incorporate satellite and cellular connectivity to offer affected citizens and first responders access to device charging stations and internet connectivity, improving their ability to coordinate and respond effectively in emergencies.

The scale of the problem that SolarFi is addressing is significant. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 1.6 billion people, or a quarter of the world's population, are affected by conflict, displacement, and natural disasters. These destabilizing events can worsen the availability and quality of health services in contexts where health systems are already weak, increasing the likelihood of death, disease, and poor mental health. The frequency and severity of crises like pandemics, forced displacement, and impacts from climate change are growing, and building resilience in health systems is critical to allow them to better prepare for, manage, and learn from shocks and stresses, while also providing critical care throughout.

SolarFi Bliss addresses several factors contributing to the problem of maintaining access to healthcare in fragile contexts, including limited access to energy and connectivity, which can impede emergency response efforts and hinder the delivery of critical health services. By providing energy-autonomous, mobile, and flexible solar pods that incorporate satellite and cellular connectivity, SolarFi Bliss can help improve access to energy and connectivity in post-disaster impact zones, supporting the delivery of critical healthcare services, emergency response efforts, and overall health system resilience.

Overall, SolarFi Bliss is a solution that has the potential to make a significant impact in communities affected by disasters and emergencies, both locally and globally. By providing access to energy and connectivity in these contexts, SolarFi can help improve the delivery of critical healthcare services and support the building of more resilient health systems.

What is your solution?

SolarFi Bliss addresses several factors contributing to the problem of maintaining access to healthcare in fragile contexts, including limited access to energy and connectivity, which can impede emergency response efforts and hinder the delivery of critical health services. By providing energy-autonomous, mobile, and flexible solar pods that incorporate satellite and cellular connectivity, SolarFi Bliss can help improve access to energy and connectivity in post-disaster impact zones, supporting the delivery of critical healthcare services, emergency response efforts, and overall health system resilience.

Overall, SolarFi Bliss is a solution that has the potential to make a significant impact in communities affected by disasters and emergencies, both locally and globally. By providing access to energy and connectivity in these contexts, SolarFi can help improve the delivery of critical healthcare services and support the building of more resilient health systems.

SolarFi is working with the President of GE Healthcare in South Africa to create private-public-partnerships. 

Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

SolarFi's solution, the SolarFi Bliss, serves people living in fragile contexts such as post-disaster impact zones. This includes both affected citizens and first responders. In these contexts, access to basic necessities like electricity, internet connectivity, and charging stations for devices can be severely limited, if not completely unavailable.

The SolarFi Bliss is designed to provide energy autonomy through its use of solar power, enabling people to charge their devices and access the internet even when other infrastructure is damaged or unavailable. The unit can be deployed quickly and easily, making it an ideal solution for emergency response efforts.

For affected citizens, the SolarFi Bliss can provide a lifeline to the outside world, enabling them to contact loved ones and mark themselves as safe. It can also be used as a point of distribution for food and water, and as an information kiosk to help people locate emergency shelters and disaster recovery centers.

For first responders, the SolarFi Bliss can help improve the efficiency and safety of their response efforts. With access to internet connectivity and charging stations, they can better coordinate their efforts and communicate with each other and with other organizations involved in the response.

Overall, the SolarFi Bliss has the potential to make a significant impact on the lives of those affected by disasters and other fragile contexts, providing them with critical resources and enabling them to better access the assistance they need.

SolarFi's solution can help healthcare in fragile contexts and disaster-affected areas in several ways.

First, by providing reliable energy and internet connectivity, SolarFi can increase the capacity and resilience of health systems in these areas. This includes the health workforce, supply chains, and primary care services. With consistent energy and connectivity, healthcare workers can access vital health-related data, communicate with other healthcare providers, and coordinate responses to emergencies and disasters.

Second, SolarFi can improve the accessibility and quality of health services for underserved groups in fragile contexts, such as refugees and other displaced people, women and children, older adults, and LGBTQ+ individuals. These populations are often disproportionately affected by disasters and conflicts, and may have limited access to healthcare services. By providing a reliable source of energy and internet connectivity, SolarFi can help healthcare providers deliver essential services to these populations.

Third, SolarFi can enable continuity of care, particularly around primary health, complex or chronic diseases, and mental health and well-being. In disaster-affected areas, healthcare services may be disrupted or inaccessible, making it difficult for patients to receive the care they need. With SolarFi's solution, healthcare providers can maintain critical healthcare services and provide ongoing care to patients, even in the aftermath of a disaster.

Overall, SolarFi's solution has the potential to significantly improve the quality and accessibility of healthcare services in fragile contexts and disaster-affected areas, ultimately saving lives and improving health outcomes.

How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

Antonio Dixon is an MIT-trained, award-winning entrepreneur and economist with experience in healthcare (telehealth), renewable energy, and international trade, which has led him to work over 20 international markets and travel to over 60 countries. Antonio was recently recognized as a “Top 100 Startup Changemaker” from Harvard and MIT, and recognized by the U.N. as a Young Pioneer, the winner of the Frost & Sullivan Emerging Market Innovation Award.

His company, SolarFi, is the only company with less than $50 million in revenue to be invited to the U.N.’s SDG Innovators Program. He currently serves an an Entreprenuer-In-Residence at Columbia University and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

An expert change-maker and serial entrepreneur, Antonio has always had an abiding interest in sustainability. To that end, as co-founder of SunPowerd he developed alliances to provide solar grids to developing countries and orchestrated key partnerships with Microsoft, Royal Dutch Shell, USAID Power Africa, and the United Nations. Based on his experiences as a resident in Africa where access to the internet and even continuous power is sometimes a luxury, Antonio saw an opportunity and leveraged his deep knowledge of technology to co-found SolarFi.

Dr. Agbo has been on the front lines in the fight against Polio for over 30 years. He has experience in countries around the globe, including Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania, Palestine and Angola from his time as Chief of Health and Child Survival with UNICEF for 16 years and counting. Under UNICEF he is responsible for the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of integrated management of childhood illness (IMCI), Immunization and emergency preparedness and response (EPR) for the Nigeria country office. Prior to this, he worked as the Head of Health & HIV at Save the Children and as a Community Health Officer with WHO.

Russ Klein is the former Director of Innovation and Research at Sensi Tech Hub, supporting the first and only innovation center and its startup investment fund in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Mr. Klein is a professional innovation consultant who brings technology and best-practices to under-developed and under-served markets. He empowers people by inspiring them to experiment with disruptive tools and processes and by supporting them as they apply 21st-century technologies to create a better world for themselves. A serial entrepreneur, over the last 25 years Mr. Klein has founded more than a dozen startup technology companies developing software and information products for the private investment industry on Wall Street, as well as mobile banking, e-commerce, machine learning, multifactor security and biometrics, education, communications, and media systems. His skills include rapid development and agile methodologies, software design and engineering, information architecture and knowledge discovery in data, messaging and intranet platforms, web and mobile app development, Internet of Things solutions, OTT communications applications, and social media marketing. Mr. Klein has personally developed, produced, managed, and led hackathons for private companies, governments and NGOs, and for the public in the USA, Algeria, Turkey, Poland, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere. Mr. Klein is also an accomplished writer, focusing on research and analysis in emerging technology and emerging markets.

LaRonn Barnette has 15 years of experience working within the private, public, and government sectors. He specializes in virtualization, cloud computing, and Hyperconverged Infrastructure Data Centers while adapting to emerging technologies. He is recognized for more than 10 years of Systems/Network Engineering work for the U.S Department of State domestically and abroad at more than 30 U.S Embassies/Consulates in foreign countries.

Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Improve accessibility and quality of health services for underserved groups in fragile contexts around the world (such as refugees and other displaced people, women and children, older adults, LGBTQ+ individuals, etc.)

In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?

Johannesburg, South Africa

In what country is your solution team headquartered?

  • South Africa

What is your solution’s stage of development?

Growth: An organization with an established product, service, or business model that is rolled out in one or more communities

How many people does your solution currently serve?


Why are you applying to Solve?

  1. Financial Barriers: Solve can connect SolarFi with potential investors, philanthropic organizations, or impact investors who are interested in supporting innovative solutions in renewable energy and sustainable development. Solve's network and partnerships can provide access to funding opportunities and financial resources to help SolarFi scale its operations.

  2. Technical Barriers: Solve can help SolarFi access technical expertise and resources through partnerships with technology companies, research institutions, or engineering firms. This support can be valuable in optimizing SolarFi's technology, improving operational efficiency, or overcoming specific technical challenges.

  3. Legal Barriers: Solve can assist SolarFi by connecting them with legal experts or organizations that specialize in navigating legal frameworks and regulations related to renewable energy projects. This support can help SolarFi address legal barriers and ensure compliance with local laws and regulations.

  4. Cultural Barriers: Solve can provide guidance and resources to help SolarFi understand and navigate cultural considerations and sensitivities in the communities they aim to serve. This may involve collaborating with local partners or community organizations to ensure SolarFi's solutions are culturally appropriate and accepted.

  5. Market Barriers: Solve can offer market insights, access to market research, and connections to potential partners or customers who are interested in adopting renewable energy solutions. This support can help SolarFi identify market opportunities, develop effective marketing strategies, and expand its reach and impact.

I'm also in talks with the MIT Media lab to support the project. 

In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

  • Monitoring & Evaluation (e.g. collecting/using data, measuring impact)
  • Product / Service Distribution (e.g. delivery, logistics, expanding client base)

Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Antonio DIxon

More About Your Solution

What makes your solution innovative?

SolarFi's solution approaches the problem of energy poverty in a new and improved way by providing an affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy solution that is tailored to the needs and economic realities of rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa.

One of the key innovations of SolarFi's solution is its financing model, which allows customers to pay for the solar energy systems in installments over time, making the technology more accessible and affordable for households with limited incomes. This model also provides an ongoing revenue stream for SolarFi, allowing the company to scale and expand its operations to reach more customers over time.

Another innovative aspect of SolarFi's solution is its use of mobile technology to monitor and maintain the solar energy systems remotely. This allows SolarFi to quickly identify and address any issues with the systems, ensuring that they continue to function properly and efficiently over the long term.

SolarFi's solution could catalyze broader positive impacts from others in this space by demonstrating the viability of a business model that combines social impact and financial sustainability. By showing that it is possible to provide clean energy solutions to underserved communities in a financially sustainable way, SolarFi could inspire other entrepreneurs and investors to enter this market and drive further innovation and impact.

Furthermore, SolarFi's solution could change the market by creating a new market for affordable and sustainable energy solutions in rural Africa. As more households adopt solar energy systems, this could create a network effect, driving down the cost of solar technology and making it even more accessible to rural communities in the region. This could have far-reaching impacts on a range of areas, from health and education to economic development and climate change mitigation.

What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and how will you achieve them?

  1. Provide clean and affordable energy access to at least 1 million people in underserved communities in the next 5 years.
  2. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1 million metric tons by displacing kerosene lamps and diesel generators with SolarFi's solution.
  3. Create at least 10,000 jobs in the renewable energy sector by training and employing local technicians to install and maintain SolarFi's systems.
  4. Improve education outcomes for at least 100,000 children by providing reliable electricity for studying and charging electronic devices.
  5. Increase women's economic empowerment by providing energy access for income-generating activities for at least 50,000 women in the next 5 years.

To achieve these impact goals, SolarFi may need to partner with governments, NGOs, and private sector organizations to increase their reach and impact. They may also need to continue innovating and improving their technology and business model to make their solution more affordable and scalable for a wider range of customers. Finally, it will be crucial for SolarFi to continue engaging with and listening to the communities they serve to ensure that their solution is meeting their needs and priorities.

Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 1. No Poverty
  • 3. Good Health and Well-being
  • 4. Quality Education
  • 6. Clean Water and Sanitation
  • 7. Affordable and Clean Energy
  • 9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 12. Responsible Consumption and Production
  • 17. Partnerships for the Goals

How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

  1. Quantitative data: SolarFi can track the number of solar home systems installed, the amount of carbon emissions avoided, the number of households benefiting from improved energy access, the number of jobs created, and the revenue generated.

  2. Qualitative data: SolarFi can collect feedback from customers through surveys, interviews, and focus group discussions. This feedback can provide valuable insights into the impact of the solar home systems on their lives and well-being.

  3. Impact assessments: SolarFi can conduct impact assessments to measure the long-term impact of their solution on the target population. These assessments can be done through a third-party evaluator or an internal team.

  4. Key performance indicators (KPIs): SolarFi can define KPIs for each impact goal and track progress towards these KPIs regularly. For example, if SolarFi's impact goal is to improve energy access, they can track the percentage of households with access to electricity before and after the installation of solar home systems.

For Emergency Response and Health:

  1. Health: SolarFi's impact goal could be to improve access to healthcare in underserved communities by providing solar-powered medical equipment and lighting to clinics. KPIs that could be tracked to measure progress towards this goal include the number of clinics equipped with solar-powered equipment, the number of patients treated with the equipment, and the improvement in health outcomes among patients.

  2. Disaster Relief: SolarFi's impact goal could be to improve disaster preparedness and response in vulnerable communities by providing solar-powered emergency lighting and communication equipment. KPIs that could be tracked to measure progress towards this goal include the number of communities equipped with solar-powered emergency equipment, the number of emergency situations where the equipment was used, and the improvement in response times and outcomes as a result of using the equipment.

What is your theory of change?

SolarFi's solution can have a significant impact on the problem of energy poverty and lack of access to reliable electricity in rural communities.

SolarFi's approach is to provide affordable and reliable solar home systems to households in rural communities. These systems are designed to be easy to install, use, and maintain, with a pay-as-you-go financing model that makes them accessible to low-income families. By providing these solar home systems, SolarFi aims to increase access to electricity, improve household living conditions, and reduce dependence on expensive and unreliable sources of energy such as kerosene lamps and diesel generators.

SolarFi's theory of change is that by providing affordable and reliable solar home systems, households in rural communities will have access to electricity that can power appliances such as lights, fans, and mobile phones, improving their quality of life. This will lead to immediate outputs such as increased hours of light, better education outcomes for children, improved health outcomes, and increased economic productivity.

Over the longer term, SolarFi expects to see outcomes such as increased financial stability for households, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and improved community resilience to climate change and natural disasters. By providing a reliable and sustainable source of energy, SolarFi's solution has the potential to catalyze positive impacts in areas such as health, education, economic development, and environmental sustainability.

For emergency response and health, SolarFi's solution can have a significant impact by providing reliable and renewable energy sources for critical equipment in emergency situations. This can include powering medical equipment, communication devices, and emergency lighting during power outages caused by natural disasters or other crises. Additionally, by providing electricity to health clinics in remote areas, SolarFi's solution can improve the quality of healthcare and increase access to medical services. This can lead to improved health outcomes and decreased mortality rates.

The theory of change for emergency response and health would be similar to that of the education sector, with SolarFi's solution providing reliable and sustainable energy sources to power critical equipment and improve the delivery of services. The immediate outputs would be the installation and operation of SolarFi's energy systems, while the longer-term outcomes would be improved access to medical care and better health outcomes in emergency and remote healthcare settings.

Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

Software, solar panels, IoT, battery back up. Since this is public, we cannot talk about all the technology.

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new application of an existing technology

Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Internet of Things
  • Manufacturing Technology
  • Software and Mobile Applications

In which countries do you currently operate?

  • Ghana
  • Nigeria
  • Sierra Leone
  • South Africa
  • United States

In which countries will you be operating within the next year?

  • Jamaica
  • South Africa
  • United States
Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

Hybrid of for-profit and nonprofit

How many people work on your solution team?

3 full-time, 7 part-time

How long have you been working on your solution?

2 years

What is your approach to incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusivity into your work?

prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusivity in all aspects of their work, from team hiring and culture to community engagement and solution design. Here are some specific approaches that could help:

  1. Diversify the team: We are a minority-led. SolarFi prioritizes hiring a diverse team that represents the communities they serve. This includes hiring people from different racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds, as well as hiring women and people from the LGBTQ+ community.

  2. Ensure equity in solution design: SolarFi ensure's solutions are designed with equity in mind. This means taking into account the unique needs of different communities and ensuring that their solutions do not perpetuate existing inequalities.

  3. Engage with the community: SolarFi actively engages with the communities we serve to ensure that our solutions are designed in collaboration with those communities. This includes listening to community feedback and incorporating that feedback into solution design.

  4. Provide training and education: SolarFi provides training and education to the communities they serve to ensure that they have the skills and knowledge to use SolarFi's solutions effectively. SolarFi also worked with organizations such as Edict that provide us with interns that come from underserved backgrounds 

  5. Measure impact on equity: SolarFi's plan is to measure the impact of its solutions on equity and adjust its approach as needed. This includes collecting data on the demographic makeup of the communities they serve and monitoring whether their solutions are having a positive impact on all members of those communities. This is something we are still working on

Solution Team

  • Antonio Dixon President , SolarFi - Connected to the world
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