Invest With This Kiva-Like Nonprofit & Help Build Solar Projects In The Global South

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Investing doesn’t always have to benefit the investor financially, as sometimes a return on an investment could simply be a feel-good vibe, or it could help benefit a community or even help to make an impact globally. Most investors who are in it to make money with their money might turn their noses up at making a zero-return investment, but there are plenty of people who make ‘nonprofit’ investments all the time through organizations like Kiva.org, where access to microfinance has helped people around the world get the funding they need from outside of traditional moneylending channels.

There’s another nonprofit working to harness the power of micro-investments to help fund solar projects in the Global South, and it has a very Kiva-like approach, which is no wonder, considering that Premal Shah, one of Kiva’s cofounders, is heading up the organization.

It has a very memorable web address, Renewables.org, and its focus is on building solar “where it does the most good” where it can “Prevent more carbon per dollar than any other investment,” thanks to the carbon multiplier effect in places such as India and Africa.

“Because power grids rely on coal and other dirty fuels in the Global South, clean electricity produced there displaces more carbon than it would in the U.S. The Carbon Multiplier is a metric that calculates exactly how many times more.”

    • Clean energy is already more common in the U.S. while in the Global South, diesel and coal based generation are still common.
    • Generating a kilowatt hour of electricity in the U.S. emits between .5 and 1 pound of carbon – while markets in the Global South often average double that.
    • The Carbon Multiplier is a component of the Impact Multiplier, which helps Renewables.org decide how to maximize carbon prevention.

You can participate in this effort by loaning as little as $25 for a 5-year term (0% interest, naturally), which makes this a lot more accessible for the average person, which seems to be a large part of the organization’s appeal.

Money invested through Renewables.org is deposited into a fund that lends to developers “building high impact solar projects,” which then pay 5 to 10% — a market rate of return — to the organization. That interest is then used to cover the organization’s operating costs, whereas the principal of the loan is repaid with regular payments to each of the lenders over the 5-year term. Get more info, or get started investing, at Renewables.org.


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Derek Markham

Derek lives in southwestern New Mexico and digs bicycles, simple living, fungi, organic gardening, sustainable lifestyle design, bouldering, and permaculture. He loves fresh roasted chiles, peanut butter on everything, and buckets of coffee.

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