Robert works for RESTIO ENERGY, a Barefoot Power distributor in South Africa.
This is his story:
RESTIO ENERGY Company is a registered company and a leading energy for development consultancy, based in Somerset West, South Africa. The company was founded in 2001 and has since led and participated in numerous consultancy and project development initiatives across the SACD and East African region. RESTIO is understanding energy poverty and developing sustainable solutions to address these realities. RESTIO works principally in the ‘off-grid’ and ‘low-income’ sector covering the fields of renewable energy and liquid fuels for both electric power and thermal energy in order to provide these communities with access to an integrated and sustainable energy solution.
RESTIO ENERGY was set up by Robert. He is a leading development consultant in the African renewable energy industry with specializations in sustainable energy service business models, the productive use of renewable energy, energy and development programme evaluations, and energy project feasibility studies. He has worked with a host of development organizations, including the World Bank, United Nations, Millennium Challenge Account, GVEP-I and GIZ. He holds an MSc degree in Environmental Change and Management from the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University, as well as a Master of Social Science degree in Social Anthropology. He also serves on the Consumer Working Group of the Global Cookstove Alliance.
The need for affordable and clean energy among the South Africans not connected to the grid in the townships was the idea behind starting RESTIO and the commitment to promoting original, financially sustainable and accessible solutions to a range of energy related problems and challenges. According to Robert, “We understand that energy is an essential element in achieving sustainable development and we aim to understand and address the obstacles impeding the successful delivery. We focus on a broad range of market opportunities, from working with those facing energy poverty to more mainstream opportunities in commercial, agricultural and industrial arenas. Working with a client profile including private, public and non-governmental organizations, we develop, promote and distribute energy solutions that inform, present income-generating opportunities, and offer convenience and value for money.
"We aim to reduce the use of candles and paraffin lanterns, which will in turn reduce accidental fires as well as accidental ingestion of paraffin. We also believe that current illumination options, in addition to the dangers, are more expensive in the long-run than Barefoot Power products."
Importantly, the presence and use of Barefoot Power products within these rural households will provide an invaluable demonstration of the effectiveness and performance of PV-based lighting products in communities where such products currently have very little traction. This will be used to further stimulate the demand for these products.
The loan will be used toward the cost of procurement of 1,800 Firefly Mobile Lamps from Barefoot Power. This will assist with the cash flow requirements for the purchase and distribution of the Firefly Mobile Lamps to individuals and communities in six provinces in South Africa, supported by a government contract through the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR). Through it, RESTIO will be in a position to reach 1,700 people in remote areas through a coordinated formal distribution as dictated by the DRDLR.
In order for the Firefly Mobile Lamps to become increasingly accessible to all markets, RESTIO requires economies of scale, so the more people who benefit from the use thereof, the more this will contribute to RESTIO building a sustainable mode of distribution in order to grow the market.
Because Barefoot Power’s core business is not microfinance, there is some level of additional risk for lenders. Kiva’s partnership with the company is unique and unprecedented. For this reason, Kiva has not assigned the organization a risk rating.
Barefoot Power is a for-profit social enterprise dedicated to bringing solar lighting solutions to remote, low-income regions. The company offers Kiva-funded loans to its distributors and retailers to buy supplies, open stores, and sell high-quality, affordable lighting products to consumers in underserved communities. Access to renewable lighting reduces use of pricey, dangerous kerosene, and significantly improves household productivity and income potential.