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Illac Diaz Founder, Liter of Light Foundation

Illac Diaz is a social entrepreneur working to empower communities in the Philippines and around the world through several pioneering programs in rammed earth, bamboo, and PET plastic bottle construction.

Illac founded the MyShelter Foundation in 2006 to promote grassroots sustainable development through capacity-building and employment-generating projects. Introducing groundbreaking social enterprise, appropriate low-cost technologies, and alternative construction in the Philippines, the MyShelter Foundation has pioneered projects such as the Pier One Seafarer’s Dormitory, the Design Against the Elements (DAtE) competition, and the Bottle School Project, improving the lives of Filipinos in rural communities through the creation of classrooms and clinics made of recycled materials like plastic bottles. Illac realised that while he could build innovative, sustainable structures, he had no way to light buildings constructed far from the electrical grid. His solution to this challenge led to the Liter of Light movement.

Illac’s latest venture, Liter of Light (Isang Litrong Liwanag), is the world’s first grassroots green lighting program bringing low-cost, zero-carbon solar bottle bulbs to underprivileged communities worldwide. By empowering local entrepreneurs and marginalised groups like prison detainees and trash pickers, this initiative shows how simple solutions powered by human hands bring the green revolution to the bottom 99 percent. Since 2013, Liter of Light has empowered the lives of over one million people a year across 32 countries. Each of these hand-built solar lights reduces carbon emissions by 1000 kg and allows each of us to have a stake in creating a cleaner, greener future.

Illac’s vision is to improve one million lives a year and to reframe the way people think about solutions to climate change not as a product of industrialised nations, but as a gift that developing countries can share with the rest of the world.

Illac holds a Masters Degree in Social Entrepreneurship from the Asian Institute of Management (AIM), a Masters Degree in Urban Studies and Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and a Masters Degree in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School. When he is not traveling the world installing innovative solar lighting solutions with Liter of Light, Illac is a professor at the Open Online Academy leading students in the creation of post-disaster architectural designs.

Illac is the first Filipino to win the Zayed Future Energy Prize, considered to be the Nobel Prize for clean energy, in 2015. He is the private sector representative to DUBAI EXPO 2020. Celebrating culture, collaboration and innovation, EXPO, whose theme is “connecting minds, creating the future”, will be visited by over 25 million people who will convene on Dubai from October 2021 to April 2022.

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