Who runs the world? GIRLS! Meet Game Changer Eden Full, Founder and CEO of SunSaluter. Read on to learn more about this twenty-something who is changing the world, one idea at a time.
TOMS: What does the term game-changer mean to you?
Eden: I think a game-changer is someone who really values making a difference. In a small or a big way, I don’t think that matters, but what matters is that the intention is there and that they really want to do their part and using their skill set and their passion to really help someone else.
TOMS: Okay. Describe what you do and the core idea behind it.
Eden: I run SunSaluter, which is a non-profit organization that aims to empower for-profit entrepreneurs in underdeveloped countries to build companies around a technology that we’ve developed. The technology that we’ve developed is a rotating solar panel called the SunSaluter. What it does is it optimizes your energy collection by up to 30% by allowing the solar panel to be directly facing the sun every single day and following it as it treks from east to west. By optimizing your solar panel in this way, 30% more electricity in some of these communities means more electricity to charge cell phones, removing that reliance from kerosene lanterns, when cooking, having an opportunity to connect to other villages, other communities because you now have access to a radio you can charge on a regular basis. Having 30% more electricity, especially when electricity is so scarce out there already, it makes a big difference.
TOMS: How would your friends describe you?
Eden: My friends would describe me as passionate and resilient. I think those two things are very important and they kind of embody who I am. No matter what challenges are out there, I’m ready to tackle them and I think my past experiences have shown me that there’s really nothing stopping me except myself. If I don’t think I can do something and I’m going to let existing rules and boundaries get in my way, that’s on me.
TOMS: We’re curious what inspires you.
Eden: I think someone who has really inspired me has been Bill Drayton, the founder of Ashoka. Ashoka is an organization that supports social entrepreneurs around the world. Bill was actually the guy who coined the term social entrepreneurship before it became such a big thing in the 80s. Ever since the 80s, Ashoka has been growing all around the world and they provide fellowships to social entrepreneurs who really need that kind of support in order to bring their ideas forward. Bill had this vision back then, back when no one was talking about social entrepreneurship. He created this movement and now everyone’s talking about it and everyone wants to be doing business for good while also being for-profit, and I think it’s really powerful that he had the vision to see that before everyone else.
TOMS: What cultures and/or communities do you look to for inspiration?
Eden: I think some of the cultures that I’ve looked to for inspiration include east African culture. I had a chance to deploy the very first SunSaluters about an hour away at a very small village called Mpala and it’s about an hour away from Nanyuki, which is in Kenya. After being there, having a chance to try the food and seeing how happy people can be with very little, it really gave me the perspective that I can be content with what I have as well. It gave me the passion to move forward and share the SunSaluter technology with as many people as possible and I’m very excited by all of the countries that we’ve expanded into. We have deployed units in 15 countries now.
TOMS: What do you wish for the world?
Eden: I wish that people in the world would care about something, it doesn’t matter what it is but a cause that they believe in, a game that they want to change. What I would encourage is for more people to go out there and try something new, meet great people. Try and understand what other great work is being done out there and see if there’s a way that they can add value. It starts with something small by just sharing an idea that you believe in with other people that you’ve read in a book that you really value.
TOMS: Two more questions. What’s in the future for SunSaluter, and you?
Eden: In the future, I want SunSaluter to grow to as many countries as possible. Right now, we are in 15 and I think we have the potential to grow to many more. I’d love to have the chance to continue creating other technologies and to use my engineering background to do other things that are meaningful to me and also might have an impact on other people.
TOMS: What does the phrase “We are one” mean to you?
Eden: To me, “We are one” means that we are all on this planet, we are all in this together and so that’s why we should all care and we should all be working together to make an impact and to make things better for someone else because it’s a feedback loop. I think if you contribute something great to the world, it’ll come back to you in one form or another. I think that has really proven to be a big thing in my life. I’ve met so many great people as a result of my work in SunSaluter and I’ve been inspired in so many ways and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I took a little initiative and it’s given me returns exponentially.