Updated Apr 08, 2021

Laura Stachel

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Saving Lives in Childbirth with Innovative Solar Suitcases

The award-winning We Care Solar Suitcase is an economical, easy-to-use portable power unit that provides health workers with highly efficient medical lighting and power for mobile communication, computers, and medical devices. By equipping off-grid medical clinics with solar power for urgent medical care, We Care Solar reduces maternal and infant morbidity and mortality and improves the quality...
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The award-winning We Care Solar Suitcase is an economical, easy-to-use portable power unit that provides health workers with highly efficient medical lighting and power for mobile communication, computers, and medical devices. By equipping off-grid medical clinics with solar power for urgent medical care, We Care Solar reduces maternal and infant morbidity and mortality and improves the quality of care in maternal health centers in Africa and other regions.
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Stage 5: Scaling

We Care Solar designs and manufactures compact solar electric systems and distributes these to off-grid health centers to ensure health workers have essential electricity for life-saving care. Through our country-level Light Every Birth initiative, WCS has deployed over 6,200 Solar Suitcases in partnership with governments, UN agencies and NGOs. Our rugged, complete solar electric systems provide medical lighting and medical devices (fetal heart rate monitors, infrared thermometers) and 12VDC charging. Our capacity building workshops provide local technicians with the skills to install and maintain our devices. Our Women Solar Ambassador Program promotes women as solar trainers and installers.
Registered in United States as Non-Profitin United States as Non-Profit

Focus Areas:

Health, Gender Equity, Solar and 4 MoreSEE ALL

Health, Gender Equity, Solar, Climate Change and Resilience, Humanitarian Assistance, Energy Efficiency and Response TechnologiesSEE LESS

Implemented In:

Ethiopia, Nigeria, Nepal and 6 MoreSEE ALL

Ethiopia, Nigeria, Nepal, Liberia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Sierra LeoneSEE LESS

9
Countries Implemented In
7,500,000
Customers
17
Employees
$34,000,000
Funds Raised to Date
Verified Funding
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Problem

We Care Solar is bringing essential medical light and electricity to African health centers that are now trying to implement infection control protocols and public health guidelines on top of other services. We Care Solar has longstanding programs focused on clean energy for maternal and newborn care. With the spread of COVID-19, our programs support health workers facing additional burdens. Without electric lights, health workers cannot safely provide essential healthcare and infection control. They are compromised in their ability to properly examine, diagnose and treat, conduct essential medical procedures, and perform life-saving obstetric care.

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Solution

The Solar Suitcase is a rugged, easy-to-use solar electric system that includes medical-grade LED lighting, a fetal heart rate monitor, an infrared thermometer, and 12VDC charging for medical devices and phones. The are designed to work day after day without fail and require minimal maintenance. We partner with UN agencies and international NGOs to implement our programs, building local capacity by training health technicians to install our technology and to train health workers on their optimal use.

Target Beneficiaries

We Care Solar serves base of the pyramid populations in Africa and Southeast Asia. The majority of our programs are in rural communities where families live in extreme poverty. Primary beneficiaries of our work include (1) families in need of frontline health services, (2) expectant mothers and their newborns, (3) healthcare workers in remote health centers, and (4) government ministries striving to improve obstetric care. To date we have served 7.5 million mothers and newborns.

Mission and Vision

We envision a world where all families have access to safe, reliable health care. We will have achieved success when all health workers have the power to save lives, and mothers and babies no longer die of preventable causes during childbirth.

Competitive Advantage

The Solar Suitcase is designed to be safe, easy-to-install, and easy-to-use. It includes four water-resistant, break-resistant medical LED lights, USB ports for charging phones, and 12VDC charging ports for additional devices. The Solar Suitcase includes an electronic fetal heart rate monitor with rechargeable batteries. To respond to the ongoing pandemic, the Solar Suitcases includes electronic infrared thermometers and face masks. The Solar Suitcase was designed for harsh environments and durability. It includes all the hardware for installation. High-efficiency, bright medical lights last 70,000 hours; the maintenance-free lithium battery lasts 5-years before requiring an easy replacement. The solar panel and battery are sized to allow the system to be used 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our patented power system, lights, user interface, trainings, and ‘after-market’ support are designed specifically for medical staff in extremely remote, underserved parts of the world.

Planned Goals and Milestones

We are promoting our "Light Every Birth" campaign - serving every health center in need at a country-wide level. The “Light Every Birth” campaign is enabling us to scale to achieve our vision. “Light Every Birth” partners are united by three core beliefs: 1. Every woman has the right to a safe delivery. 2. Every health center is entitled to reliable light and electricity. 3. Clean, renewable energy offers an immediate and sustainable solution to this global challenge. Key components for success include: 1. Country-wide program saturation 2. Strong partnerships and alliances 3. Building a strong database 3. Strengthening local capacity and systems for sustainability 4. Global advocacy
Funding Goal30,000,000
Projected Cumulative Lives Impacted20
New Implemented CountriesUganda, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone
RecruitTwo new board members, two staff
New FeatureVirtual trainings in solar installation

The Team Behind the Innovation

Laura E. Stachel, MD, MPH, DrPH, is the Executive Director. She is a former obstetrician with 14 years of clinical experience and 12 years of international development experience. She was Associate Director of Emergency Obstetric Research in West Africa for the Bixby Center. She received her MD from UCSF and MPH/DrPH from UC Berkeley. Samantha Parsons, COO, has 17 years of international development experience. Christina Briegleb, Senior Global Program Director, has 12 years of experience developing and managing public health programs. Ambrose Katungi Muhwezi, MD, Africa Regional Director, has progressive knowledge and experience delivering maternal and newborn clinical services.

EXECUTIVE TEAM INCLUDES WOMEN

Milestone

Nov 2020
New Country Implemented In
Sierra Leone
Jul 2020
Recognition ReceivedPENDING
May 2010
Created

Supporting Materials

Impact-of-the-We-Care-Solar-Suitcase-2021.pdf
At-a-Glance-Feb-2021.pdf
Light-Every-Birth-April-2021.pdf