The Charles Bronfman Prize is Awarded to Social Entrepreneur Sam Goldman

The 10th annual Charles Bronfman Prize was awarded Tuesday night to social entrepreneur Sam Goldman, founder and Chief Customer Officer of d.light design, a certified B Corporation dedicated to providing the most reliable, affordable and accessible solar lighting and power systems for the developing world. Charles Bronfman presented Goldman with the award at a ceremony attended by leaders in government, Jewish affairs, philanthropy and the emerging field of social entrepreneurship.

Each year, The Charles Bronfman Prize – with an accompanying $100,000 award – celebrates the accomplishments of an individual or team under the age of 50 whose humanitarian work is informed by Jewish values and has global impact, changing lives and inspiring the next generations.

“Over the past 10 years, our judges have done an exceptional job of selecting a group of laureates who have made, and continue to make, a tremendous mark on the world and Sam is no exception,” said Charles Bronfman, presenting the award to Goldman in a ceremy at the New-York Historical Society. “Like the fellowship he is joining, Sam is truly a remarkable young humanitarian capable of inspiring next generations, and it’s an honor to welcome him into the Prize family.”

Goldman, 34, is the youngest and first Canadian recipient of The Charles Bronfman Prize. He is also the first recipient recognized for humanitarian work pursued through a for-profit social enterprise.

d.light designs, manufactures and distributes solar lighting products for the developing world. Today, more than 1.6 billion people live by the light of kerosene because they lack access to reliable electricity. Kerosene is dangerous, dirty and produces a low quality light. As a for-profit social enterprise, d.light has been able to scale rapidly, producing the world’s most affordable and durable solar lighting products, and improving the health, education, earnings potential and overall quality of life for nearly 40 million people in some of the world’s poorest areas–9 million of whom are children.

“d.light is a part of a new phenomenon in the world of entrepreneurs who are doing good social work,” said Ambassador Stuart E. Eizenstat, speaking on behalf of the international panel of judges who selected Goldman for the Prize.

“One in four people on this earth have no access to electricity. That means all the devices we use for education and communication are unavailable. Rather than simply wringing his hands about it, Sam decided to do something. If there has ever been an exemplar of tikkun olam–repairing the world–it is what Sam and d.light do every day of the week.”

M. R. Rao, CEO and managing director of SKS Microfinance Ltd–the largest microfinance institution in India and second largest in the world–gave testimony about the impact that of Sam’s work.

“In India, the poor don’t send their kids to school, they send their kids to work. But because of Sam and d.light, the kids are able to study once the sun goes down. Mothers no longer live in fear that kerosene will cause their homes to burn down. That is how the impact of d.light is felt.”

“We set out with a goal to reach 100 million people by the year 2020, and in each year we’ve been in business, we’ve reached more people than in all previous years combined,” Goldman said in his acceptance speech. “In all likelihood, 50,000 people will be moved from kerosene to clean, sustainable solar energy today. They are creating a new generation–a renewable energy generation.”

At the ceremony, Goldman announced Power for All a new initiative, separate from d.light, that will bring public and private institutions together, dedicated to delivering universal power access before 2030.

“Power is fundamental to economic development and to human development,” he said. “The equivalent of what a U.S. household uses in just a few days can make the difference between a country with a high quality of life and a country with a very low quality of life.”

“Sam and Dad are so much alike,” said Stephen Bronfman, Charles’ son and a co-founder of The Charles Bronfman Prize. “He is generous of spirit and grew up understanding that helping people is just what you do. He has used business principals to make a difference–and he is a proud Canadian.”

“Over the years, we have been fortunate to recognize humanitarians who have made a difference in education, health, the environment, human rights and poverty, and when we were deciding upon this year’s recipient, we were struck by the fact that Sam and his partners at d.light are having an impact in all of these fields,” added Prize co-founder Ellen Bronfman Hauptman, Charles’ daughter.

Nominations for The Charles Bronfman Prize 2015, will be accepted beginning November 1st. Selection criteria and nominating forms are available at


d.light’s Impact: By the Numbers

  • 37,912,976 lives empowered
  • 9,478,244 school-aged children reached with solar lighting
  • $1,284,484,188 saved in energy-related expenses
  • 13,681,503,384 productive hours created for working and studying
  • 2,997,177 tons of CO2 offset
  • 53,292 MWh generated from renewable energy source


AboutThe Charles Bronfman Prize


2014 marks the tenth anniversary of The Charles Bronfman Prize. Ellen Bronfman Hauptman and Stephen Bronfman, together with their spouses, Andrew Hauptman and Claudine Blondin Bronfman, established the Prize to honor their father and his commitment to applying Jewish values to better the world and to inspire the next generations.

Previous recipients are Jay Feinberg, Founder and Executive Director of the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation; Dr. Alon Tal, Founder of Israel’s Arava Institute for Environmental Studies; Dr. Amitai Ziv, Founder and Director of the Israel Center for Medical Simulation; Rachel Andres, Founder and Director of Jewish World Watch’s Solar Cooker Project; Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin, Co-Founders of the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP); Sasha Chanoff, Founder and Executive Director, RefugePoint; Jared Genser, Founder and President of Freedom Now; Karen Tal, Former Principal of The Bialik-Rogozin School and Co-Founder of Education Insights; and Eric Rosenthal, Founder and Executive Director of Disability Rights International.


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