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UL Joins Watts of Love and the Acorn Foundation To Elevate Equity in South Africa Communities

The three organizations partnered to deliver UL Certified solar-powered light sources, providing a safer alternative to the reliance on fossil fuel-burning lamps.

Group of South Africans sit at a table leaning how to use their Watts of Love solar-powered lights

May 23, 2022

Johannesburg, South Africa — May 23, 2022 — UL, a global safety science leader, today announced it partnered with Watts of Love and the Acorn Foundation to distribute solar-powered lights manufactured by Watts of Love to communities in South Africa. Championed and spearheaded by UL, a team of UL employees from the company’s Johannesburg office, along with leadership and staff from Watts of Love and the Acorn Foundation, distributed the UL-certified lights directly to residents of Olievenhoutbosch Extension 24, located in Centurion, Gauteng, South Africa.

The solar-powered lights are intended to help eliminate dependency on dangerous and costly kerosene as a light source, improving the health and well-being of each recipient and their family. The lights were distributed in tandem with a financial literacy program that teaches how to convert the resulting kerosene savings into sustainable income.

“This one innovative tool, a solar-powered light source, can help protect children and adults from dangerous fires and toxic fumes, secure a safer and more prosperous home environment and elevate equity. It also reduces greenhouse gas emissions and indoor air pollution,” said Barbara Guthrie, vice president of Corporate Sustainability at UL.

About 1.3 billion people globally rely on kerosene lamps to illuminate their homes. In addition to posing burn risks, kerosene is also toxic. Unintentional ingestion of the liquid is a primary cause of child poisoning in developing countries. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has linked household kerosene use to impaired lung function, asthma, cancer and increased risk of infectious diseases. According to the World Bank, kerosene is expensive and consumes 30%-40% of a family’s income. Illumination brings about profound lifestyle changes in families, contributing to safety, convenience and financial stability.

But there is a safer alternative: solar-powered lamps. Watts of Love, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization, gives this clean energy light to people who live in some of the most impoverished parts of the world. Each light provides recipients with a safe and secure environment and a pathway to an independent and sustainable future. In addition to helping distribute solar-powered lights in South Africa, UL is committed to providing pro bono solar lighting product certification for the solar-powered lights designed, manufactured and distributed by Watts of Love. 

“The testing, inspection and certification of products to promote safe, secure and sustainable living and working environments for people is core to UL’s principles,” Guthrie said. “We are honored to support the Watts of Love vision and help make sure their product is safe for global distribution.”

Founded in 2012, Watts of Love helps empower individuals to raise themselves out of the darkness of poverty through solar lighting. The organization has a proven scalable and sustainable approach that equips households with a solar light to eliminate costly light alternatives so people can reinvest their savings. Using a unique financial literacy curriculum, Watts of Love trains light recipients on how to save, invest, and build for the future. The program also includes helping empower people to identify their dreams, set goals and take ownership of where to direct their savings.

At Watts of Love, we know that people living in poverty want to give their families a better life,” said Nancy Economou, founder and CEO of Watts of Love. “We are thrilled to partner with UL and the Acorn Foundation in South Africa to help break this cycle of poverty and help build a pathway for a brighter future.”

The effort among UL, Watts of Love and the Acorn Foundation is intended to help deliver lasting transformation in the community of Olievenhoutbosch Extension 24, Centurion. Acorn Foundation works to support the most vulnerable populations in South Africa while also participating in initiatives that help move individuals towards self-sustainability.

We applaud UL and Watts of Love for stepping forward to give their resources and their time to change the lives of others in South Africa,” said Sue Smit, CEO of Acorn Foundation. “Addressing the root causes of poverty means that we can help empower adults to play a more meaningful role in the lives of their children and communities.”

About UL

UL is a global safety science leader. We deliver testing, inspection and certification (TIC), training and advisory services, risk management solutions and essential business insights to help our customers, based in more than 100 countries, achieve their safety, security and sustainability goals. We believe our deep knowledge of products and intelligence across supply chains make us the partner of choice for customers with complex challenges. Discover more at


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