Last updated August 20, 2012

Partner Description:


Solar Sister is a nonprofit organization that distributes clean, affordable solar technology while empowering women with economic opportunity. To this end, the organization is building an Avon-style network of women to sell solar lights, mobile phone chargers and more.

Solar Sister’s model is designed to generate income for women entrepreneurs in remote and low-income regions, and to build an effective rural distribution channel for new technology.

In sub-Saharan Africa, women make up 70% of the poor living without electricity. They are also the primary decision makers when it comes to choosing solar lighting and heating over the standard kerosene. For these reasons, Solar Sister sees women as the key to ending energy poverty and kerosene dependence as both sellers and buyers.

Solar Sister supplies its saleswomen with low-cost, clean energy solutions for household consumption. It sources these products from a range of brands, including Kiva Field Partner Barefoot Power, solar lantern maker D.light Design, Greenlight Planet and others.

Each Solar Sister Entrepreneur (SSE) receives an in-kind loan in the form of a “business in a bag.” Every month, she sells these items at a profit and repays Solar Sister the original price of the inventory. This flexibility allows SSEs to work part-time or full-time.

Solar Sister operates as a social business, covering operating costs out of net revenues and investing any profits back into the mission to reach more women entrepreneurs. Providing women with income generation opportunities has a ripple effect of impact.  With the income earned from their businesses, SSEs are able to invest in their families' education, health and well being. "With the money I have earned as a Solar Sister, I am able to send all of the children to school, the boys and the girls," says Grace, a Solar Sister who works to support her family of ten children in Uganda.

Solar Sister is poised for expansion. Its partnership with Kiva provides the working capital it needs to fund SSEs’ inventory kits, allowing the organization to invest more in geographic expansion, SSE recruitment and more. All loans to SSEs will come at 0% interest, and will be awarded for a period of 10 to 18 months. During the course of their Kiva loans, SSEs will sell their inventory, re-pay Solar Sister and access more funds. Accordingly, at any point during the loan, SSEs will have a mix of inventory and cash that is equal to the value of the Kiva loan.  

Promoting solar adoption is critical to improving quality of life in remote, off-the-grid areas. Kerosene -- the go-to solution for heating and lighting throughout the developing world -- poses serious environmental, safety and health concerns. Non-renewable and expensive, kerosene often consumes up to 30% of household income for families at the base of the pyramid. The problem is particularly acute in Africa, where 60% of the population (about 600 million people) live without electricity. On top of that, kerosene causes millions to suffer from respiratory illnesses and burns, particularly women and girls.

Founded in 2010, Solar Sister has already received several awards for its work, including the Social Venture Network’s 2011 Innovation Award. It was also chosen by Google as one of 40 premier organizations that support women’s empowerment.

Repayment Performance on Kiva

    This Field Partner All Kiva Partners
  Start Date On Kiva Dec 9, 2012 Oct 12, 2005
Total Loans $3,650 $572,426,225
Amount of raised Inactive loans $0 $297,900
Number of raised Inactive loans 0 284
Amount of Paying Back Loans $650 $116,953,150
Number of Paying Back Loans 2 122,727
Amount of Ended Loans $3,000 $455,175,175
Number of Ended Loans 10 579,816
Delinquency Rate 100.00% 3.66%
Amount in Arrears $650 $2,787,702
Outstanding Portfolio $650 $76,066,668
Number of loanDelinquent 2 11,650
Default Rate 0.00% 1.08%
Amount of Ended Loans Defaulted $0 $4,913,874
Amount of Ended Loans $3,000 $455,175,175
Number of Ended Loans Defaulted 0 15,176
Currency Exchange Loss Rate 0.00% 0.07%
Amount of Currency Exchange Loss $0 $405,498
Refund Rate 0.00% 0.78%
Amount of Refunded Loans $0 $4,475,600
Number of Refunded Loans 0 5,003

Loan Characteristics On Kiva

    This Field Partner All Kiva Partners
  Loans to Women Borrowers 100.00% 74.23%
Average Loan Size $304 $418
Average Individual Loan Size $304 $657
Average Group Loan Size $0 $1,823
Average number of borrowers per group 0 8
Average GDP per capita (PPP) in local country $1,500 $3,443
Average Loan Size / GDP per capita (PPP) 20.28% 12.15%
Average Time to Fund a Loan 0.13 days 5.49 days
Average Dollars Raised Per Day Per Loan $2,304.08 $76.17
  Average Loan Term 12 months 10.23 months

Journaling Performance on Kiva

    This Field Partner All Kiva Partners
  Total Journals 0 285,684
  Journaling Rate 0.00% 42.46%
  Average Number of Comments Per Journal 0.00 0.08
  Average Number of Recommendations Per Journal 0.00 1.94

Borrowing Cost Comparison (based on 2013 data)

    This Field Partner Median for MFI's in Country All Kiva Partners
  Portfolio Yield N/A 57.00% 33.71%
  Profitability (return on assets) N/A 4.5% -1.30%
  Average Loan Size (% of per capita income) N/A 61.00% 42.09%

Country Fast Facts

Field Partner Staff

Ritah Kedi
Katherine Lucy
Neha Misra
Evelyn Namara
David O'Connor