Billions in Change
Fighting Poverty with Inventions
Ken Moliver , Editor | May 11, 2016
Title: Editor
Topic category: Going Green

Here is a company that understands what it means to be part of the solution. Manoj Bhargava, founder and CEO of Living Essentials®, made billions selling the popular 5-Hour Energy drinks. That is a lot of hyped up people. Now what do we do with all that extra energy? Manoj has pledged most of his money to finding solutions that could save the world - and he is inviting us to help him. He looks to find great thinkers and tinkerers, frequently hiring people who build things in their garages. That sounds like our community. “Good stuff does not come from money. History has shown us that it is the guys in a garage that has brought about the greatest change. Mobs of PhDs do not come up with great inventions,” he tells us in the Peter Berg–produced documentary Billions in Change. Manoj's approach is to innovate and simplify. Rather then 'reinventing the wheel' the objective is to make the wheel simpler and more useful. He then plans on using the technology assimilated by his teams to help the poor in their daily lives. Manoj's goal is to raise billions of people out of poverty. If the rest of us can benefit from it as well, all the better.

He formed a group of companies to commercialize inventions that address the most basic global problems of health, power and water. Inspired by a speech of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, when he said, “There is nothing new about poverty. What is new, however, is that we have the resources to get rid of it.”

That was 50 years ago! And today Manoj is pulling together those resources, using his own money, and coming out with real world solutions to crushing world problems. Stage 2 Innovations is a $100 million private equity fund dedicated to advances in water and energy technology. Energy and water are the key to health and livelihood and the things that the poor need most. It is here that he helps the entrepreneurs and start-ups.

Stage2 lab in Farmington Hills, Michigan, begun in 2011 with former Chrysler CEO Tom LaSorda taking charge. “It’s the most well-funded playhouse for engineers you can possibly have,” lab engineer Kevin Moran says in the documentary. Here are a few of the things they have been up to.

In the regards to Energy:

At Stage 2 they are going after this universal need in a micro and a macro way...

Electricity is the greatest enabler there is. Constant refinements have been going into their stationary bike driven generator called the ‘Free Electric’ bike. It is being designed to bring portable power to places that need it most. While not a new idea they have simplified and refined it so it can be easily mass produced. They have few moving parts and nearly anyone can repair them. It is so simple that they think they can make it for only $100.

The Fee Electric Bike has no need for fuel of any kind but foot-pounds after you have eaten. It is perfect for people in remote locations that live off the grid and have low energy needs. It can easily be air-lifted into disaster areas. Once distributed to areas of the world where needed this can make a real difference in people's lives. Manoj hopes to provide electricity to the more than one billion people in the world without power.

Another thought – set it up as a stand-alone device, with a smaller battery, to get children to exercise if they want to watch TV or play on their computer. As an example: have the battery sized to give one hour of additional use for every hour peddled.

Unfortunately the Free Electric bike still relies on battery storage for the energy created. In my humble opinion this is the weak point in the system. I'm hopeful that a better option will come along in the near future. Maybe you will be the one who figures that out.

And on the Macro side of things...

Large scale power producing facilities do not have to be part of the problem. There are non-polluting, environmentally friendly ways to approach this need. Manoj and his team have set their sights on tapping into an unlimited source of heat - from the earth's core.

Graphine is a great conductor of heat and electricity. It is 100 times better conductor then copper, lighter then air and stronger then steel. It transfers heat very efficiently. A conduit made of graphine will transfer the heat almost instantaneously up the center while the outside walls stay cool. It works over great distances. Manoj envisions a conduit reaching down close to the hot core of the earth, bringing up power (heat), pollution free. This heat energy can then be converted to electricity in any number of conventional ways. Stage 2 is working on weaving strands of graphine together into a cable that can reach down to tap that unlimited energy.

He is transferring the technology to Singapore, who will develop it and spread it to the rest of the world. He chose Singapore because of their neutrality and with no ties to the established energy cartels. "Energy is the great equalizer. If energy was plentiful the poor would not be poor." Energy security would be a major game changer.


Human life cannot exist without clean, fresh water that is safe to drink. To that end they are developing a distilling unit they call 'The Rainmaker'. It can turn any water into vapor, then condense it back into distillate at a rate of 1,000 gallons per hour. This will work with contaminated water or even sea water. The quality can be varied depending on the needs (human, crops, boilers, etc). Again, this is not a new idea but an improvement over what exists today. Always looking to simplify and innovate, these units will be efficient and will have no consumable parts to change out periodically. Once put in place they do not require any operational support. Manoj envisions arrays of these units put on a the shore or on a barge that can create 15-20 million gallons a day. Those barges can be anchored off any coast that needs the water and can easily be moved as needed.

“The purpose of business, in the end, is to serve society,” he says. “I want to redistribute wealth in an intelligent way.” One way he is trying to accomplish this is by selling his technology for profit in drought-plagued California and using the profits to give Rain Makers to the poor in India.


The heart circulates our blood to bring every cell - everything it needs. The circulatory system also removes all waste products. That is a big job and over time it becomes less efficient at doing it. That starts to effect us badly in two ways. The cells, and therefore all our systems, do not get the oxygen and basic materials to do their jobs. That has to lead to more malfunctions and mutations. Then there is the waste side of things. You leave trash building up, in any scenario, and nothing good comes of it. Pathways get clogged and blocked and garbage turns to poison. Undesirable things grow and thrive where they ordinarily would not be able to. Poor circulation is the cause of many health problems.

Manoj started another company to address this serious health issue. Renew Group Private Limited is dedicated to evolving the best machine, technology has to offer, to assist in clearing and renewing your circulation. It uses a a non-surgical, non-invasive, drug-free approach to certain heart problems...and much more.

Called an External Counterpulsation Device (ECP), it uses inflatable cuffs (similar to blood pressure cuffs) wrapped around the calves, thighs and hips. Sensors are placed on the chest to detect the heartbeat. The cuffs are synchronized to inflate when your heart is not pumping, forcing blood back up to the heart on each heart cycle. This acts as an auxiliary pump, increasing blood flow to parts of the heart that may be lacking oxygen and flushing the entire circulatory system. Their Renew® NCP-5 is a portable unit which is quiet and runs on standard 115 VAC.

ECP dates back to research done at Harvard in the 1950’s. Since that time there have been hundreds of peer review studies on the benefits of using this therapy. "We realized there was so many things it was doing." Manoj tells us. “But it has not caught on.” Renew is trying to bring technology that has been used only sporadically to the mainstream.

"The idea is not to treat illness, it is to treat wellness" says Sir David Lane. “We tend to think of ourselves as being well or being ill. But the reality is it's a continuum. What we should be aiming for is great wellness and no illness. What we tend to do is think we are well until we are ill.”

If you can delay ailments – that's health care. A more proactive method to prevent the onset of disease is to increase your wellness. That is exactly what using the ECP machine can do. They were designed to treat angina and other heart issues but there is no reason we should not look beyond. I hope to see these machines widely used ( bringing the price down) and available to all of us healthy enough to use them. Imagine them in health clubs for a good flush after a workout. And in waiting rooms and airports so you can use that time effectively. Insurance companies should get on-board to the degree that your rates go up if you do not avail yourself to this therapy. Research shows that 35, one hour sessions, give results that last for years. Sign me up.

Thank you Manoj Bhargava for being a good citizen of the world and a great example of what that means. Once a week he will be highlighting another influential global citizen working in alliance with the world at large. Called the 'GOOD 100', their stories and insights will be shared. With hope, their examples will inspire others with the ways and means to do the same.

“Through the work I do now with Billions in Change, my goal is to address some of the fundamental issues facing the world. I’ve got a team of inventors making useful products in the areas of water, energy, and health that we’re hoping will enable people to earn a livelihood, become self-sustaining, escape poverty, and experience well-being. The way I see it, my customers are the unlucky half of the world—those who have not had the opportunity to make a living because of circumstances beyond their control. I’m working for them. And if they’re not properly served, then I have not done my job.”

Best of luck to Stage 2, Renew and all companies striving to bring good and important tools and instruments of change to the masses. Stay curious, Question everything.

Tags: Billions in Change, Stage 2, Free Electric Bike, Renew ECP, Rainmaker Water Distiller, Graphine Cable
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