Kiva is a world leader in microlending and has helped many people pull themselves out of poverty by lending them money to start small businesses. What may not be known as much is that Kiva also supports renewable energy projects. Below is an interview with them about their work in this area.
How does Kiva develop renewable energy projects?
Kiva works with a world-wide network of 275 microlending organizations, NGOs and social enterprises. Kiva aims to increase access to clean, renewable energy sources by crowdfunding loans along the entire supply chain, from producers and distributors to retail and end-point consumers.
What kind of projects do you develop?
Kiva’s projects in clean, renewable energy are extremely diverse and include energy-efficient cook stoves, solar lights, solar microgrids, and pedal-powered generators, among many others. As the world’s first and largest crowdfunding platform, Kiva is uniquely positioned to build awareness and make an impact on this global problem. Since their founding in 2005, Kiva’s growing global community of one million lenders has crowd funded $575 million in loans to benefit more than 1.3 million borrowers in 75 countries.
What benefits are for renewable energy in developing countries?
There are many benefits. Among them, access to clean burning cookstoves. Cooking fires kill through burns, smoke inhalation and respiratory disease. Women and children are at the highest risk because they are constantly exposed to smoke, ash and heat from cooking stoves and lanterns. The burden of gathering fuel for these devices also falls on them. Daylight hours are spent searching for or purchasing fuel instead of studying or earning a living. Clean burning cookstoves have been shown to reduce emissions, improve health (reduced smoke inhalation) and save households money on cooking fuel. Kiva partners such as Paradigm Project, BrazAfric and VEP offer these types of loans, helping bring these impactful cookstoves to the working poor. “On Thin Ice” a report by the World Bank, reports that limiting smoke and soot from fires will not only save lives but will also fight climate change.
Who do you work with in the host countries?
Kiva is proud to partner with and develop financing solutions for the problem solvers working on-the-ground. Partners include NGOs, microlending organizations, and social enterprises. Among Kiva’s partners are Entrepreneurs du Monde in ; UpEnergy in Uganda, Rwanda and Central America; EarthSpark International in Haiti; and Solar Sisters across sub-Saharan Africa.
Kiva partner Nuru Energy addresses the critical need for access to clean energy around the world by creating and distributing the Nuru POWERCycle pedal generator, an easy-to-use, re-charging platform. The “POWERCycle” resembles a bicycle and provides sustainable power anytime by recharging Nuru Energy’s portable LED lights. By distributing lights through networks of village-level entrepreneurs, this initiative enables entrepreneurs to generate an income while also creating a self-sustaining power grid system in some of the most remote parts of the world.
Where are you expanding?
Starting at the end of July, Kiva.org and EarthSpark International are teaming up to scale-up the first pre-paid solar hybrid smart micro-grid in Haiti (Les Anglais) to serve both residential and commercial customers, including agricultural processing facilities. Visitors to www.Kiva.org/Haiti can browse through the various Haitian projects and choose one that they want to support with a loan of $25 or more. Haitians spend $10.00 per month on kerosene and candles to light their home. With electricity it only costs about $2.00 per month and dramatically increases household health and safety. Haitians spend 13x more of their income on energy than the average American. Only 25% of Haitian households are currently connected to electricity grids.
How can Kiva’s assets help develop the micro-grid in Haiti?
Visitors to Kiva.org/Haiti crowdfund loans to finance individual household connections to the micro-grid AND will then crowdfund loans for new agricultural processing companies that will need capital to take advantage of the access to electricity.
More about EarthSpark and Kiva
A Kiva communications staff member, Jason Riggs, provided more detail about EarthSpark, “EarthSpark International is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to eradicating energy poverty in Haiti with innovative technology and financing solutions. By expanding market access for lower-income Haitians, the organization is putting affordable, portable solar lighting and improved cookstoves in the hands of people who need it most. EarthSpark has also built Haiti’s first smart micro-grid. EarthSpark joined Kiva as social enterprise partner in December 2012, posting loans on Kiva to expand its business-in-a-bag model for small scale entrepreneurs who get clean energy products to rural, lower-income households in Haiti. Since joining as a Kiva partner, EarthSpark has endorsed $50,175 in loans to 81 entrepreneurs with a 0% delinquency rate and no defaults.”