Caroline is an entrepreneur who works with a small team of socially minded partners to improve the lives of farmers throughout Kenya. A few years ago, Caroline started her own business to support farmers and their employees in the flower and tea-growing region of the Rift Valley and Western Kenya, where she has improved the lives of thousands by providing access to sustainable energy products that are needed within local communities.
Caroline’s product line now includes solar energy solutions, as well as improved cook stoves, which she and her small team sell on farms, in factories, savings and credit cooperatives, and in open-air markets. The team also conducts trainings and live demos for community members to see the positive aspects of solar when compared to traditional energy sources such as candles, kerosene, and disposable batteries. With years of experience selling a variety of solar products and building a reputation in her community, Caroline began working with One Degree’s team in Kenya in 2012 after hearing about BrightBox, a new solar energy kit that powers lights, phones, and radios. During initial demos, customers would get excited when seeing BrightBox lights in action; Caroline acted quickly as an entrepreneur.
Since April 2013, Caroline has already sold over 230 BrightBox kits to her customers. She already has requests for many more, which she would like to provide before the holidays. While happy with her initial success, Caroline has been selling to customers on a regular cash basis, while many others cannot afford to pay upfront. These same customers are often stuck spending $10-$15 per month - a considerable portion of their income - on lighting and phone charging.
To break this cycle and provide renewable energy to these customers, Caroline would like to start offering flexible payment terms to those who need it most, while also increasing her inventory on hand to serve more customers. She seeks support from Kiva lenders to make this happen.
Caroline will use funds for 170 units of Bright Boxes solar kits, which will energize and empower households across her region. Customers will be able to collect BrightBox systems immediately and pay for them upfront or over several months. Since they are currently spending money on polluting, unsafe, and inefficient energy, most will save enough to recoup costs in 4-5 months and never worry about fuel or fire again. With your help, Caroline will help families eliminate energy expenses, improve safety, and allow their children to read into the night.
About One Degree Solar
One Degree Solar (ODS) is a for-profit social enterprise that designs, manufactures and distributes micro-solar products to improve access to energy, entertainment, and information in low-income communities across Africa. It is distinguished by its sustainable business model, which not only gets products to the people who need them most, but also provides for after-sales customer care and support by using components, tools, mobile resources, and human knowledge that are already available in a majority of off-grid communities.
By supporting this loan, you are helping a One Degree Solar reseller buy inventory of solar products to reach even more remote customers who currently rely on toxic and expensive sources of energy like kerosene. With the loan, these resellers can offer financing plans to lower-income consumers who cannot afford to purchase products upfront.
ODS joined Kiva through our Experimental Partnership Program, and has therefore received a lighter level of due diligence. Accordingly, loans associated with this partner carry a higher level of risk than typical Kiva loans.