Illac Diaz

Founder, Liter of Light Foundation

Illac Diaz is a social entrepreneur working to empower communities in the Philippines and around the world through several pioneering programs in rammed earth, bamboo, and PET plastic bottle construction.

Illac founded the MyShelter Foundation in 2006 to promote grassroots sustainable development through capacity-building and employment-generating projects. Introducing groundbreaking social enterprise, appropriate low-cost technologies, and alternative construction in the Philippines, the MyShelter Foundation has pioneered projects such as the Pier One Seafarer’s Dormitory, the Design Against the Elements (DAtE) competition, and the Bottle School Project, improving the lives of Filipinos in rural communities through the creation of classrooms and clinics made of recycled materials like plastic bottles.

Illac’s latest venture, Liter of Light (Isang Litrong Liwanag), is the world’s first grassroots green lighting program bringing low-cost, zero-carbon solar bottle bulbs to underprivileged communities worldwide. By empowering local entrepreneurs and marginalized groups like prison detainees and trash pickers, this initiative shows how simple solutions powered by human hands bring the green revolution to the bottom 99%. Since 2013, Liter of Light has empowered the lives of over one million people a year across 32 countries. Each of these hand-built solar lights reduces carbon emissions by 1000 kg and allows each of us to have a stake in creating a cleaner, greener future.

Illac’s vision is to improve one million lives a year and to reframe the way people think about solutions to climate change not as a product of industrialized nations, but as a gift that developing countries can share with the rest of the world.

Illac holds a Masters Degree in Social Entrepreneurship from the Asian Institute of Management (AIM), a Masters Degree in Urban Studies and Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and a Masters Degree in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School. When he is not traveling the world installing innovative solar lighting solutions with Liter of Light, Illac is a professor at the Build Academy leading students in the creation of post- disaster architectural designs.

Illac is the youngest Asian Institute of Management alumnus to receive an Honors and Prestige Award. In 2004, he received a three-in-a-row award: Everyday Hero Special Award from the Reader’s Digest Asia, an Entrepreneur Award from the 1st Johnny Walker Social Award and a runner-up in New York’s Next Big Idea International Design Competition.

In 2005, he was a recipient of the Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) Award for Social Entrepreneurship given by JCI Philippines. He also received a citation from the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Geneva as one of the “Young Global Leaders of 2008.”

Illac is the first Filipino to win the Zayed Future Energy Prize, considered to be the Nobel Prize for clean energy, in 2015. He was the private sector representative to EXPO2020, selected as one of 140 changemakers from over 11,000 entries to take part in the World EXPO as part of the EXPOLive Impact Innovation Grant Programme. Illac was also named Visionary of the Year at the PropertyGuru Asia Real Estate Summit in 2020.