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Sputnique: Solar-school in a backpack

Sputnique is solar-powered internet connected multimedia classroom in a backpack that educate children in the most remote areas.

Photo of Waliullah Bhuiyan
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What problem does your innovation solve?

There are setups like refugee camp, temporary settlements where a school structure is often not possible. In coastal areas like Bangladesh, where natural disaster is frequent, schools get destroyed or being shut down for months. There are 40 thousands primary schools in Bangladesh alone that are located in off-grid areas. Sputnique - a solar run backpack with internet connected multimedia classroom set up can bring the school right at the children's neighborhood with low operating cost.

Explain your innovation.

Sputnique allows teachers, educators and development professionals working with education to provide access to high quality education to the children located in most remote locations. It’s a completely solar-powered and internet connected multimedia setup that allows to take class remotely and take online class from another place. This an all-in-one solution that has the capacity to connect multiple classrooms or schools even through slow or weak internet with amazing user convenience and ability to respond to technical problems on real time. It has a flexible design so that organizations can adjust and modify the system according to their need. It helps organizations to respond to education problem during crisis or emergency situation when setting physical schools and getting teachers to take class regularly are difficult. Sputnique offers B2B sale (to organizations, NGOs, non-profits, Govt. etc) that makes it sustainable and with scale there are opportunities when it can offer services in B2C strategy (directly to schools). Sputnique is not a product just for education during emergency. But it will be used for regular times in other projects like healthcare, agriculture or other development project that involves training, capacity building, awareness. It helps organizations to reduce their human resource cost to train large number of people, help them to do it faster and without much logistical problem. That will also allow us to scale and sustain.

Who benefits?

Sputnique empowers organizations who work with children and education in delivering high quality education at a lower cost. For example, if your organization is running a school or education project in a rural off-grid area, Sputnique will help you to set up solar-run multimedia set up. You don’t have to worry about energy and all the logistical problems that you have to think of. With 10-15 Sputniques in different schools, you can connect all of them and take ‘live’ class centrally using just one teacher. The operational cost of running schools will be greatly reduced. In similar way, this can be utilized after disaster and during emergency situation for example in refugee shelter. Currently 10 Sputniques are in operation with 2 organizations helping more than 4000 children to get access to quality education in different villages of Bangladesh. We are planning to scale it up to 300 villages/schools in next 2-3 years in Bangladesh and outside Bangladesh.

How is your innovation unique?

A similar product like Sputnique was developed by UNICEF called Mobi-Case few years ago. But technologically and operationally it had several drawbacks. It was bulky, with no internet connectivity, projector and screen can't be used in open space and lacked user convenience. Sputnique offers an internet connected system that allows organizations to run 40-50 schools at slow internet connection in open daylight. Sputnique has a flexible design and can be used for different types of develop projects - agriculture, healthcare, education etc. Other initiatives tried to develop a product, but in Sputnique we developed a system based on human-centered design to solve the challenge of providing high quality education experience to the children. We already sold 12 units to Sesame Street Bangladesh and American Center. Other non-profits (Bangladesh & abroad) are already showing strong interest get our solution for their different projects; another indicator that we have a great solution.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the idea?

One of our concern is to make the system cheaper to make it more affordable. Current manufacturing cost is $1500 that will reduce by 30% if we go for automated assembling process. Sputnique already works in slow internet connection, but it will be great to develop a process that stores and air classes once the internet comes back if any disruption occurs. Partnership with key organizations like UNICEF, other INGOs and donors will help us to scale. With Sputnique we are confident about the technology part, and we need to adapt different models for implementation of various types of projects. We are currently working on two projects - one with schools and one with farmers. Exposure to more projects will enable us to find best methods.

Tell us more about you.

Sputnique is a product developed by Light of Hope. It’s the largest education-based social enterprise in Bangladesh. The core team members who developed Sputnique are all electrical engineers graduating from universities in Bangladesh and Europe. Light of Hope is a Spark* International alumni and one of the growth entrepreneurs of Bangladesh. Spark* International is the impact arm of YGAP – a social enterprise accelerator programme based in Australia. Check out here:

What is the primary type of emergency setting where your innovation would operate?

  • Natural disaster
  • Armed conflict
  • Prolonged displacement

Emergency Setting - Elaborate

In natural disaster like cyclone, flood or earthquake the recovery period is often very long. In war or internal dispute, we’ve seen huge displacement and refugee centers grows. Schooling and education for children largely disrupted in these settings. Moreover, in rural remote areas quality schooling is a big issue with lack of electricity and inadequate quality teachers. In these situations, Sputnique can offer low cost solution to organizations to do large scale education project.

Where will your innovation be implemented?

Bangladesh, South East Asia, Africa are some areas where the product will have the biggest impact. We are already piloting in Bangladesh. The hardware setup doesn't need to be changed for different locations. But localized educational contents need to be pre-loaded to the system. Implementing organizations can pre-load contents after purchasing the product based on their need. We will ensure user training and after sale services.

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

In-country Networks

Light of Hope is working with over 100 schools and more than 10 development organizations working with education. It is the fastest growing education social enterprise with more than 30,000 children impacted. We’ve partnership with Seseame Street Bangladesh, Save the Children Bangladesh, Dnet, Plan International etc. We are currently rolling a project with ACI (largest agro-business in Bangladesh) to set up farmer schools where Sputnique will be used to train local farmers.

Sector Expertise

  • I've worked in a sector related to my innovation for more than a year.

Sector Expertise - Elaborate

The entire Light of Hope team (total 12 people) has got an amazing mix of people from education, engineering and development sector. Wali, CEO, Light of Hope has 7+ years of experience working in education and renewable energy. Maruf & Anik – two other members of the Sputnique engineering team have over 11 years of experience together in working with product development and renewable energy. Raka Abedin, VP, Education, has 17 years of experience working in education sector.

Innovation Maturity

  • Roll-out/Ready to Scale: I have completed a pilot and am ready or in the process of expanding.

Organization Status

  • We are a registered for-profit company (including social enterprises).

Organization Location

We are registered in Bangladesh. Official address: House 5/12, Block D, Lalmatia, Dhaka, Bangladesh.


Light of Hope website: Sputnique website:

How has your Idea changed based on feedback?

We recently launched our upgraded version of Sputnique to potential customers in a formal inauguration programme. 10 Sputniques are in the field for last 5 months where Sesame Street Bangladesh is using them in different schools. Feedback we got so far are great. 1. A low cost version of the product 2. Very good training on the product operation and maintenance for the end user 3. Flexible solution (some organizations may not need all the components, for example speaker or the solar panel)

Who will implement this Idea?

Sputnique has already a team of 5 dedicated to bring this product to the customers (organizations). They are all based in Bangladesh. Since Sputnique is a product developed by Light of Hope, it will get marketing and other supports. Sputnique is currently being used by Sesame Street Bangladesh. Based on the feedback, they will take more. We are in conversation with few other organizations to start using Sputnique for their different projects. We've got a small grant (USD 6250) from EMK Center (US Embassy affiliated center in Bangladesh) to develop two upgraded Sputnique and launched them.

What challenges do your end-users face? (1) What is the biggest challenge that your end-users face on a day-to-day, individual level? (2) What is the biggest systems-level challenge that affects your end-users?

1. The end users of Sputnique is the field-level staff of different organizations. They need to check if everything is working before they start the class or training. One or two things might not work sometimes. They need to talk to someone to fix the problem. So a 24/7 'support hotline' will be great. The end beneficiaries are students or adults who will get education or training. If the training is through online, they might face some connection problems that might result in call dropping or disrupted audio or video. 2. Connecting 30-40 Sputnique through online on a daily basis for one education project or training project. After sale support to all the end users of Sputnique will be another system-level challenge.

How is your organization considering sustainable growth in order to continue making an impact over time?

Light of Hope is a social enterprise. Sputnique currently offers B2B service to set up and run education projects to non-profits, NGOs, donors. We are already in operation breakeven. More partnerships and projects will help us to scale. We already got calls from Australia, Kenya and UK to try our product for their different projects. Partnerships is the key for our future expansion. For example, Sesame Street Bangladesh is already using Sputnique and gave good review. They told us if the project is successful in Bangladesh, they are going to promote it to 147 countries where they operate.

Tell us about your vision for this project: (1) share one sentence about the impact that you would like to see from this project in five years and (2) what is the biggest question/hurdle you need to address to get there?

Impact: By 2020, we aim to train and educate more than 250,000 children, adolescent and adults through Sputnique in collaboration with our partner organizations. Question: How to we assemble and manufacture the final product with the highest quality at an affordable cost in Bangladesh or probably in China? How to we develop large scale support mechanism to hundreds of different organizations using the product? How do we on-board our partners efficiently?

How do you currently measure (or plan to measure) outcomes for this project?

Currently we are looking into number of Sputnique being deployed in the field by our partner organizations and number of beneficiaries getting the support for that. For example, 10 Sputniques are being used to support about 5000 children in 20 different schools. In future, we would like to measure schooling or training hours, number of beneficiaries, topics being covered, money saved (from logistics and extra human resource for training) by partner organizations for using Sputnique.

What is the timeline for your project Idea? What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years?

1. Partnership with more organizations: Understand their projects and how Sputnique can bring values. 2. Deploy Sputnique in their projects and measure outputs & outcomes. 3. Develop an small assembling facility with a good supply chain. 4. Look for opportunities to expand beyond Bangladesh to neighboring countries.

My organization's operational budget for 2016 was:

  • Between $50,000 and $100,000 USD

How many of your team’s paid, full-time staff are currently based in the location where the beneficiaries of your proposed Idea live?

  • Between 5-10 paid, full-time staff

Is your organization registered in the country that you intend to implement your Idea in?

  • We are seeking registration in order to implement in additional countries.

How long have you and your colleagues been working on this Idea together?

  • Between 1 and 2 years

What do you need the most support with for your innovation?

  • Business Development / Partnerships Support
  • Business Model Support
  • Program/Service Design


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Photo of Muhammad Zabir

One of the best education supportive novation i have ever seen. Will be very useful to spread Education.

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