Billions

“Billions in Change 2” is a new documentary that showcases how a series of inventions led by Indian American entrepreneur and philanthropist Manoj Bhargava are making a difference in the lives of rural Indians. (documentary screenshot)

Every single one of us has the same basic needs: lights, health, water. Yet half the world lives without these fundamentals. We have solutions that could help a billion people, reads the blurb of “Billions in Change 2,” a follow-up to the 2015 documentary film, “Billions in Change,” which chronicled the philanthropy of Indian American entrepreneur Manoj Bhargava.

Bhargava, the creator of 5-Hour Energy drink, believes those with more have a duty to serve those with less. In order to develop solutions to address the crises of India’s rural poor, Bhargava founded Stage 2 Innovations Lab, which is based in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Stage 2 focuses on four areas: electricity, clean water, advanced medical technology and the umbrella goal of benefiting mankind.

“Lights, clean water and nutritious food are the foundation of health, education and livelihood,” said Bhargava. “Without them it’s impossible to live a productive life and care for your family.”

While the first documentary focused on the above said solutions, the follow-up presents five new inventions that directly address those fundamentals: the HANS powerpack, the HANS solar briefcase, RainMaker for brackish water, RainMaker for grey water, and Shivansh fertilizer.

Bhargava talks about how difficult the journey was and how the team worked tirelessly to arrive at where they are today.

“I wish I was smart enough to go right to the end, it would save a lot of money,” said 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!’”

The portable and durable HANS powerpack is a power generator that can be recharged for free using the built-in solar panel, the HANS solar briefcase, or the HANS free electric bike. It can also be plugged into a regular wall socket and charged off the grid. It includes onboard lighting, a USB port, and a 12-volt outlet for running small electronics.

The HANS solar briefcase is a lightweight, portable, and simple-to-use set of solar panels designed for charging the powerpack from virtually anywhere. Created with portability and durability in mind, it avoids the serious problems that make glass rooftop panels impractical for poor, remote communities.

The RainMaker for brackish water is a filtration unit that removes the salts and other minerals from brackish water and makes it suitable for both human consumption and agriculture. The device is intended for use at the village level, while 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 —and makes it fit to drink.

Shivansh fertilizer is a cost-free fertilizer that is made by gathering whatever is laying around — dry plant materials, fresh grass, crop residues, animal manure. After 18 days, the result is a nutrient-rich fertilizer with a high concentration of soil microorganisms and free of chemicals.

These inventions, said Bhargava, enable people to improve life for themselves and for their families.

“The question is how do we save a billion lives?” asks Bhargava in the film. “There are more than a billion rural poor. What we are about is about providing opportunities for them… to give them help in what they are already doing.”

Watch “Billions of Change 2” at www.billionsinchange.com.

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