Mike Bellot cannot easily erase from his memory the tragic loss of his cousin in Haiti through a fire outbreak. Bellot’s cousin was then in the university studying to become a medical doctor. During a late-night study, by candlelight, he dozed off.
The unattended candle started a fire which consumed the home and killed him in the process. “After that, many parents in the rural areas in Haiti don’t allow their children to study at night because they are living in a constant of the house to be on fire,” Bellot said. “And it was not too long before some of the students started dropping out of school.”
Following the incident, Bellot, who was then studying global politics and international trade at Tamkang University, Taiwan, set out to create a solution that could lead to the provision of cheaper, accessible and cost-effective power in poor homes not only in Haiti but across the globe.
In Haiti, electricity is unavailable to many citizens. According to one publication, only about 40 percent of Haitians have access to electricity, with an average annual consumption of just 21 Kilowatts (KWH) per person. Although Haiti has substantial renewable energy potential, the country still faces significant challenges in gaining access to clean and renewable energy.
Bellot’s passion to create a solution to provide cheap, sustainable and accessible light was not limited to only Haitians but to the over one billion homes worldwide that do not have access to electricity to enable their children to study at night.
Bellot co-founded Solo Bag, which has integrated a solar panel, integrated battery, USB port, GPS tag for tracking, and an integrated LED lamp, enabling students who do not have access to electricity to safely and cost-effectively study and do homework during the night.
The bag also provides enough energy to enable families to charge their mobile phones or other electronic devices. According to Taiwantimes, the bag “can store enough energy from one hour of exposure to the sun for six hours of light and charge two mobile phones.”
Bellot was featured on Forbes as among ten Haitians helping to reinvent Haiti’s narrative. He was also among the 100 winners of Meaningful Business in 2020 and the Young International Chamber (JCI-Haiti) selected him as The Most Outstanding Young Person of the Year in 2019.
In 2019, a local school in Haiti, The Joseph School, announced that it will provide Solo Bags to its students and staff. “The Joseph School is investing in the Solo Bag for all our students and staff starting this fall. Since we know most of our students do not have access to regular electricity, we truly believe this will help our students be safer and more successful,” the school said in a statement.