Steve Cram
Laura Facey

Member Article

Steve Cram shines light on Gentoo solar-lamp partnership

Gentoo welcomed Olympic medallist Steve Cram MBE, to their head office on Monday, to speak to staff about the collaborative work the Group is doing in Africa with his charity, COCO, as part of Gentoo’s Planet Smart initiative.

Being planet smart is at the heart of Gentoo’s business and the aim is to influence action and initiate change internally, locally, nationally and globally to improve peoples’ Art of Living. On a global scale, Gentoo is working with Steve Cram’s charity Comrades of Children Overseas (COCO), on the Nuru Fund.

The Nuru Fund hopes to offer small customised loans to allow the opportunity for rural households in East Africa to purchase solar powered lamps. The lamps will also have the capacity to charge mobile phones. The aim is that this will provide a future income generator for the owner, as they can charge for this service as people sometimes have to walk miles for this service. Africa currently accounts for over a sixth of the world’s population and at the moment 85% of the population has no access to electricity and use dangerous and polluting alternatives such as kerosene. Replacing kerosene with safe solar lighting can improve education, health and encourage a more planet smart way of living amongst vulnerable communities.

Together, Gentoo and COCO hope to change the lives of those living in some of the poorest communities in Africa through the Nuru Fund and the provision of solar-lights. As part of Steve Cram’s visit, Gentoo staff were given the opportunity to get involved in the Nuru Fund, whether this means donating their time; their money as an investor or as a donator; or their skills to running the fund. The aim is that once the loans have been paid off by the new owner, donations may then continue to recycle, providing opportunities to more households.

Gentoo Chief Executive, Peter Walls said: “Being planet smart is in our DNA at Gentoo. It makes good business sense and is just the right thing to do. As well as our work with COCO in Africa, we already do many things in a planet smart way within the business and with our customers in Sunderland to improve their Art of Living.

“So much has already changed within our life time and we need to consider what we can do now to help future generations. We only have one planet and we can’t continue to use the resources of three. By collaborating with COCO on this agenda we can ensure our work further afield has life changing sustainable impact. The Nuru Fund aims to show how one light can really change one life.”

COCO’s Co-founder and Chairman Steve Cram said: “To make change happen and have real impacts on lives, you have to help people to help themselves. By doing this we can help create self-sustaining futures. These solar lamps provide light for children to study and the importance of education for children cannot be overstated; education promotes better health, improved self-esteem and the development of skills that are essential for making a living in later life.

“Getting things right on the ground is really important and that is where our shared ethos with Gentoo is so important. With the research skills we have in Gentoo on solar-technology and the skills COCO has on the ground we can make a huge difference to people’s lives. Sometimes, it’s the small things that can make things flourish.”

From a local perspective Gentoo staff are also learning how to be more planet smart within the business to waste less, perform better and overall reduce its impact on the environment. As part of this initiative road shows have been organised for staff to learn how to be more planet smart at home so that they can then show Gentoo customers how to be more planet smart, reducing their impact on the environment and consequently reducing their energy bills.

Gentoo Group’s whole ethos is about believing nothing is impossible and finding new ways to challenge conventions, Gentoo aims to make society a better place to live and to make a real difference to the way people live their life. To find out more about Gentoo, visit for more information or follow @gentoogroup on Twitter.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Laura Facey .

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