NewDelhi: Indian-born billionaire, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Manoj Bhargava believes those with wealth have a duty to serve those with less. He has committed over 99 percent of his fortune to improving quality of life for the ‘unlucky half of the world,’ namely by funding the development and deployment of inventions that help people meet their basic needs.
Bhargava’s unique approach to philanthropy was originally chronicled in the 2015 documentary film, Billions in Change, which featured four solutions created by Stage 2, Bhargava’s invention shop in Farmington Hills, Michigan (USA), dealing with energy, water, and health.
“Lights, clean water and nutritious food are the foundation of health, education, and livelihood,” says Bhargava. “Without them it’s impossible to live a productive life and care for your family,” he adds.
Billions in Change 2 is the follow-up to the first documentary, and unveils five wholly new inventions that directly address those fundamentals.
“That was the story of what we’d been doing,” Bhargava says referring to the original film. “This is the story of what we’ve done.”
All of the solutions featured in Billions in Change 2 have been field-tested, and all will be life changing for those who use them.
The HANS™ PowerPack and HANS™ Solar Briefcase address a problem that plagues nearly 3 billion people worldwide: lack of reliable access to electricity. For a rural household, school, or small business, the combination of the HANS™ Solar Briefcase and HANS™ PowerPack will meet most electrical needs. Together, they are like a miniature power station, except there’s no fuel to buy and no pollution.
The HANS™ PowerPack is a lightweight, portable power device that allows people to easily generate and store electricity for basic uses, such as lights, fans, and mobile devices. It includes a spotlight and room lighting, a USB port, and a 12-volt outlet for running small electronics. It can be recharged for free using the built-in solar panel, the HANS™ Solar Briefcase, or the HANS™ Free Electric bike (featured in the original Billions in Change film). It can also be plugged into a regular wall socket and charged off the grid. For those who receive electricity 2-3 hours per day, the HANS™ PowerPack can be charged when the utility is sending power, and then used during outage periods. The HANS™ PowerPack is constructed from the same material used to make bulletproof glass and comes with a 12-year warranty, so it’s made to last.
The HANS™ Solar Briefcase is a lightweight, portable, and simple-to-use set of solar panels designed for charging the HANS™ PowerPack from virtually anywhere on Earth. Created with portability and durability in mind, the HANS™ Solar Briefcase avoids the serious problems that make glass rooftop panels impractical.
Stage 2 developed two new RainMaker inventions for the billions of people who either lack access to safe drinking water, or live in areas threatened by shrinking water supplies.
The RainMaker for Brackish Water is a water filtration unit for use at the village level, which takes the salts and other minerals out of brackish water so it can be used for both drinking and agriculture. The device simply attaches to the water source, uses minimal electricity from a small generator, and begins working immediately.
The RainMaker for Grey water is a small, self-contained unit that uses a series of filters to purify any type of dirty water—river water, sewage water, bacteria-filled water, well water. It also is intended for use at the village level and can be installed and used immediately. If electricity is not available, RainMaker for Grey Water can be used with a manual pump or a bike pump.
The fifth invention, Shivansh Fertilizer, will help the billions of rural farmers who are unable to make a living and take care of their families because of the debilitating expense of chemical fertilizer. Shivansh Fertilizer is a simple-to-follow and cost-free method of making fertilizer using whatever is laying around the farm—dry plant materials, fresh grass, crop residues, animal manure. After 18 days and relatively little maintenance, the result is a nutrient-rich soil amendment. Integrating this fertilizer into a field brings dead soil back to life within just one planting season. This fertilizer method was discovered and refined through work sponsored by The Hans Foundation, one of the largest charitable organizations in India and also funded by Bhargava.
In Billions in Change 2, Bhargava describes how some of the new devices evolved from solutions featured in the first documentary. He also reveals his own Darwin-like philosophy when it comes to the invention process: “If something works, I’m there. If it doesn’t work, it’s out,” says Bhargava.
In the months following release of the first Billions in Change documentary, the team at Stage 2 worked tirelessly to refine the products featured in the film in order to start production and distribution. They conducted multiple rounds of field-tests, they made improvements, they retested, they navigated bureaucracy and red tape, and in some cases they went back to the drawing board and started over because they discovered that they could make something better.
“I wish I was smart enough to go right to the end, it would save a lot of money,” says Bhargava. “But unfortunately we have to go through all the stuff that didn’t work, all the stuff that was marginal, and then finally get to something that we say, ‘Yes, we have it!’
Billions in Change 2 is a 29-minute documentary that will be aired on several television networks across India. For a full listing of dates and times and also to view the trailer and full-length film in both English and Hindi, visit www.billionsinchange.in.