Crowdfunded Loans Help Third-World Clean Energy Projects

by | Apr 18, 2013

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The non-profit group Kiva offers a crowdfunding platform of about 900,000 individual lenders that have funded more than $415 million in loans for 1 million borrowers in 65 countries, according to the San Francisco-based organization.

Kiva’s community of lenders is crowdfunding more than $2.2 million in loans per week and a total of $420 million since the nonprofit’s founding in 2005.

Lenders don’t get paid any interest on their loans, but they can make a loan for as little as $25, and they get the satisfaction of helping spread clean energy throughout the world. Kiva says it has a repayment rate of 98.9 percent, and lenders can relend their money repeatedly or withdraw it from the system.

Among other things, Kiva’s lenders have crowdfunded loans used by borrowers for installing solar lighting systems, purchasing clean cookstoves, distributing renewable energy products in isolated regions and making household improvements to reduce energy costs and consumption.

About 20 percent of the world’s population, 1.3 billion people, live in energy poverty, according to Kiva. Many continue to use expensive, inefficient and dangerous sources of energy such as charcoal, kerosene and diesel. Despite the health benefits and potential energy and cost savings of utilizing renewable energy sources, most cannot afford the high upfront costs without access to financing.

Kiva works with about 150 field partners, including microfinance institutions and other nonprofits, to reach people on a local level, including some of the most remote places on earth. These partners administer the loans, work with borrowers and collect repayments. Several Kiva field partners started their green loan programs using Kiva’s capital.

Kiva field partners with green loan programs include: Solar Sister, Uganda, offering loans for women micro-retailers to buy inventories of solar lights to sell in their communities. One Degree Solar, Kenya, loans for retailers to purchase and resell solar devices that can charge phones, lights and batteries. EarthSpark International, Haiti, loans for retailers to purchase and resell both solar products and clean cookstoves to expand last-mile distribution. Credit Mongol, Mongolia, loans for clean energy and energy-efficient products in one of the most polluted countries on earth.

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