About us

    Light is a fundamental part of our lives. With a flick of a switch, it transforms darkness into places where people can work, learn and create. In a world where more than one billion people have no reliable access to power, electric light is a distant dream for many. The Signify Foundation is committed to ending this imbalance by enabling access to the benefits of sustainable lighting solutions to underserved communities. 

    Governance and structure


    The Signify Foundation is led by a Management Board with a majority independent from Signify. The Management Board delegates the daily operations to the Foundation Director who reports and is accountable to the Board. This Foundation Director is supported by an operations team seconded to the Foundation by Signify. In addition, other Signify employees may support the Foundation on an ad-hoc, part-time or voluntary basis.

    Board members

    Harry Verhaar

    Harry Verhaar


    Chair of the Board

    Pieter de Han

    Pieter de Haan


    Board Member

    Stanley Anyetei

    Stanley Anyetei


    Board Member

    Maloe de Reuver

    Maloe de Reuver


    Board Member

    Operations team

    Harry Verhaar

    Yue Cui



    Tarini Bhasin

    Tarini Bhasin


    Project Coordinator

    Merve Atus

    Merve Atus


    Communications Specialist

    Lou van Reemst

    Lou van Reemst


    Project Coordinator

    Policy plan


    The Signify Foundation receives annual funding from Signify. Signify will also provide in-kind donation through the provision of expert volunteers, community volunteers, products and services. Additionally, the Signify Foundation envisages to raise funds from external entities.

    In addition to dedicated and occasional staff, Signify also supports the Signify Foundation through the provision of office space, meeting space, IT and travel support and the hosting of the Signify Foundation website on the Signify servers.

    Read more about the Foundation policy plan

    Frequently asked questions

    What does Signify Foundation do?

    In a world where more than 1 billion people are not connected to the grid - working, studying, productive activities or recreation after sunset is a challenge. It is our mission to help end this imbalance by enabling sustainable access to light for communities unserved or underserved by the electric grid.


    To fulfill this mission, we partner with actors across the entire value chain that enables light access in homes, streets and institutions, empowering communities to be safer, active and economically productive after sunset.  Our execution is done through local NGOs or social enterprises. We also collaborate with other aid agencies and corporates to enable suitable solutions. 


    Our approach is to deviates from a pure philanthropic model to an enabler of the eco-system - that empowers the community to meet local needs with local supply. Thus contributing to sustainable and affordable light access for all, underpinned by creation of gender inclusive livelihood opportunities.

    What type of organization is Signify Foundation?
    Stitching Signify Foundation is an independent non-profit organization registered in the Netherlands (ANBI). 
    Which geographies does the foundation operate in?
    The Foundation operates globally, with a strong focus on communities that are off-grid & partial grid. Majority of the Foundation funds support projects in Sub Saharan Africa & South Asia, which comprises of 90% of world’s population living off-grid according to the 2017 World Bank data. 
    How is the Foundation governed and by whom?

    The Foundation’s Board is responsible for the strategy, policies, performance and operation of the foundation. The majority of the Board members are independent, i.e. not employed by Signify.


    The Foundation is operationally managed by its Director and supported by the operations team.

    What is the relationship with Signify Group?

    Signify Group, as the primary donor of the Foundation, so far, has illuminated lives for over 125 years. The foundation is building on this legacy by empowering and providing lighting for underserved communities. The Foundation is independent in its governance, decision making functioning. However, we leverage on the company’s lighting expertise, technical and operational support and its influence in the lighting sector to enhance the Foundation’s ability to light up lives. 


    Signify Group also has its own corporate social responsibility program, which focuses on lighting lives in underserved communities where the company operates. Employee volunteering is also done through this program. 

    What are the main criteria for partner & project selection?

    The Foundation aims to strengthen the entire access to light ecosystem with its resources. This includes partnerships with actors from innovators, technical service providers, distribution channels, financing agencies and organizations. Each relationship reflects the country-specific needs and operational context. 


    Partner/ project selection follows the process of project application, due diligence & risk assessment. Projects submitted for funding must fit within the Foundation areas of focus:


    • Lighting lives – green technology based solutions for enabling access to light or better light to communities unserved or underserved by the grid.

    • Lighting Entrepreneurs – technical and/ or business skills development to strengthen last mile distribution 

    • Humanitarian Lighting – In case there is a manmade or natural disaster context – lighting to be provided for emergency relief


    Projects and funding proposals that will not be considered as eligible include:


    • Individuals (all funds from the Foundation are directly given to one of our non-profit partners)

    • Organizations that discriminate based on race, color, gender, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, age or disability

    • Religious endeavors

    • Political, legislative, lobbying or organizations

    • Movie, film or television documentaries

    • Concerts or other entertainment events

    • Marketing sponsorships, cause marketing or advertising projects


    Moreover, the Foundation will not support activities that aim to lead to a direct commercial benefit for businesses of Signify.


    Partners are assessed and selected based on criteria including, but not limited to:


    • Affinity with vision and mission, alignment with Foundation strategy

    • Dedication, capacity and experience in local context

    • Track record in execution of projects in energy, livelihoods & humanitarian settings

    • General reputation

    • Sustainability and scalability in the operational model

    • Focus on innovation

    Does the Foundation conduct due diligence on its potential project partners?

    Yes. Prior to an engagement with an NGO/social enterprise (thereafter referred to as ‘applicant’), a screening process is initiated that allows the Foundation to perform an assessment of the applicant’s ethical standards and the bribery or corruption risks attached to a possible engagement.  


    The process begins with an initial collection of general information and registration from the applicant. The collected information is then submitted to the Signify Internal Audit team, which supports the Foundation in performing compliance checks. 


    The scope of the compliance screening includes (but is not limited to):


    • Authentication of applicant’s registration information, its board of trustees/directors and managers

    • Media review of the organization profile and footprint, including an assessment on the reputation and neutrality

    • Examination of the principals’ backgrounds and public profiles

    • Global and country specific compliance, sanctions and watch-lists databases check (including but not limited to political exposure, bribery/corruption, money-laundering, fraud, or terrorism).


    The results of the screening are shared with the Foundation team. If any red flags come up, the Foundation team will be requested, if appropriate, to address any red flags by way of mitigation. After review of the addressed actions, the Internal Audit team issues a report and a positive or negative recommendation to the Foundation team. 


    In addition, the Foundation’s due diligence scope also covers financial health checks and reviews of applicants’ vision, mission, strategy, resource, past projects, etc., which are conducted by the Foundation team.

    What support does the Foundation offer its partners?
    We support our partners through grants, in-kind donations, strategic & technical advice, networking opportunities with other donors & the larger ecosystem. 
    How do you follow up on the projects outcomes/impact?

    Project: Once a project/ partner has been approved, the Foundation operational team does regular check-ins for updates on use of funding, progress against agreed milestones, potential challenges & additional support required. For this, a monitoring and evaluation template is provided to the project partner that requires regular feedback against set milestones.


    Foundation: Currently, we track and report program level outcomes against two high-level indicators: lives lit & entrepreneurs trained, to assess our program effectiveness. Our objective as a Foundation is to move towards reporting of social, environmental and socio-economic impact of the projects - mainly in terms of safety & security, job creation, income generation, gender equality, education & heath in the long run.

    How do you embed sustainability in your projects?

    Sustainability is at the heart of our approach. We enable leapfrogging of communities from fossil based lighting solutions to solar lighting powered & LED technology. We are also piloting models of circular lighting in off-grid contexts where the product remains the property of the distributor/entrepreneur and only the light is procured by the end user.

    We are also actively working with GOGLA and other sector peers to stimulate grass root level solutions for solar waste management for end of use of the technology that we help to bring to a community.

    I am a Signify employee. Can I get involved or submit ideas and proposals?

    Employees are invited to nominate projects within the scope of the strategic pillars.To nominate a project please contact your foundation team or local CSR champions.


    Note – project selection criteria are explained under Q6. 

    We'd love to hear from you