Salima Visram is the 23-year-old entrepreneur behind the Soular, a backpack company equipped with solar panels, which allow children who don’t have access to electricity in rural parts of Africa to study at night without having to use an expensive and carcinogenic kerosene lamp. Soular will be launching a new one-for-one model today, through the sale of trendy backpacks on HSN in collaboration with Disney, alongside their new movie, Queen of Katwe, which is set in rural Uganda, where the kerosene lamp is central to the plot of the story.
“I was inspired to launch Soular after seeing how some children in Kenya, where I grew up, were not able to study every day and get into secondary school, which perpetuated the vicious cycle of poverty,” Visram said.
Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, who stars in Disney’s Queen of Katwe, is a supporter of Soular Backpack. Nyong’o and Disney went with the Soular team to Katwe in Uganda to distribute backpacks there in July. Soular will also be showcased at the premiere of the movie in Hollywood later this September.
“On every Soular Backpack, there’s a quote from Lupita that reads, ‘The Power Is In Your Step,’” Visram said. watch the video here
Visram launched Soular by starting a crowdfunding campaign, which exceeded its goal by 25% raising $50,000. Soular has since distributed hundreds of backpacks across Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
“So far, we’ve distributed backpacks to 500 children but we’ve realized that with one backpack in the family, on average 3 children are able to study with it,” Visram said.
Visram has big plans for Soular.
“The next phase of Soular would be to scale the one-for-one model across North America in a big way and make sure that everyone who needs a backpack is aware that they could buy a backpack that gifts light to a child in need,” Visram said. “We’re excited to position ourselves as a leading backpack company that stands to create social impact.”
Soul’s new one-for-one backpack is for sale on HSN for $49.95 in two colors, navy and white
Visram stays committed to making Soular a company that finds sustainable solutions to poverty.
“My vision for Soular is to make a holistic system of interventions and services that give people the tool to alleviate themselves from poverty,” Visram said. “We want to partner with a bank, so that the money saved on kerosene every month goes into a secondary education fund for the child. We want to set up micro-franchises in rural villages to sell lamps and batteries, in order to generate employment. We’ve just moved production to Kenya, which is creating more employment and impact within the region. Realizing how electricity is at the center of education, health and economic development is also something that inspired me to start it.”