Aisa Mijeno is a Filipino engineer and a faculty member of Engineering at De La Salle University-Lipa. She is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Sustainable Alternative Lighting (SALt).
She used to be a member of Greenpeace Philippines and has traveled many places to promote environmental campaigns. During her trip to the mountains of Kalinga, she lived with the natives of the Butbut tribe for days. They relied only on kerosene lamps and moonlight to do evening chores. The foster family who let her stayed in their home is literally living on top of a mountain. She learned that they had to go down the mountain and go to the nearest town about 30km away on foot to get kerosene lamps.
That’s when the product concept was formed. The experience made her realize the need for an alternative source of light, especially in rural areas of the Philippines. She hoped “To light up the rest of the Philippines sustainably”. Mijeno emphasized that “This isn’t just a product. It’s a social movement.”
In 2010, she gave up her NGO job and joined the De La Salle University-Lipa to teach engineering. In 2013, a technopreneurship bootcamp was held in DLSU-Lipa by a start-up incubator Ideaspace Foundation. The foundation accepted Mijeno’s proposal for the saltwater fuelled lamp and provided funds and support for her and her brother Raphael to start their company SALt.
APEC CEO Forum
Mijeno has suddenly been thrust on the world stage after being chosen to join President Barrack Obama and multi-billionaire Jack Ma to discuss climate change and renewable energy at the APEC CEO Forum. During the forum, Mijeno narrated how she was motivated by her immersion experience living with a native tribe in Kalinga.
US President Obama said that Aisa is a perfect example of young entrepreneurs coming up with leap-frog technology. Obama called Mijeno’s project a “brilliant idea” at becoming innovative in addressing climate change.
However, according to Mijeno, the challenge is to look for sources of funding to continue the project. Obama responded “I feel like I’m serving as a matchmaker here a little bit!” which made the audience laugh. He added that the government’s role is to provide tax incentives for producers of clean technology, as well as funding for research and development.
Mijeno urged the need for measures to address climate change. She shared that her ultimate goal is to power an entire island using ocean or saline water in a way to address climate change.