Kiva Labs - Closing the Energy Gap

Traditional sources of energy
are pricey and toxic.
Renewables bring change and
economic opportunity.

Sources Photo by Dhani Borges

The Challenge

Off the grid, the vast majority of people depend on kerosene, diesel, charcoal and burning wood for light and heat — all sources of energy that have been used for generations. But these sources are also expensive, dirty and dangerous. Indoor air pollution from household cooking fires has even been cited as the leading environmental cause of death in the world. This is an area with incredible potential for change, but there are high barriers:

PROBLEM #1: Clean energy products are expensive

  • Credit for clean technologies is largely unavailable because they’re not clearly and directly income generating, calling into question borrowers’ ability to repay.
  • Many prospective customers are too rural for banks to lend to them profitably.

Proposed Solutions

Loans for end users. For most bottom of the pyramid consumers, the price of a home solar system, or even a few solar lights is prohibitive. However, with credit delivered through flexible and creative means -- like a pay-as-you-go system, or automatic repayments deducted from cost savings -- end users can benefit from energy technologies without worrying about making their payments. In most cases, the amount of money and time saved from not buying or collecting kerosene, wood and diesel quickly covers the loan amount.

Our Partners

African Solar Rise, Tanzania
Loans to help entrepreneurs start renewable energy-focused businesses.

BrazAfric, Kenya
Loans for clean-burning, energy-efficient cookstoves.

Fenix, Uganda
Loans for the upfront, bulk purchase of Fenix’s Readyset device, a small, portable energy system that can power lights, radios, mobile phones, and even medical applications.

IluMexico, Mexico
Affordable loans for solar home systems in off-grid areas.

Impact Carbon, Uganda
Loans that provide access to clean stoves and water filtration systems for hospitals and schools.

Nuru Energy, Rwanda
Loans for POWERCycle entrepreneurs to purchase rechargeable LED lights to sell in their communities.

Sistema Biobolsa, Mexico
Loans for farmers to purchase biodigesters that convert livestock waste into energy and fertilizer.

TAHUDE Foundation, Tanzania
Loans for end-users and small retailers to purchase biogas systems in rural areas in Tanzania.

TECNOSOL, Nicaragua
Loans to provide off-grid communities with home solar systems and related services such as phone and solar lantern charging.

Visionary Empowerment Programme, Kenya
Loans for biogas construction and energy-saving solar lamps and cookstoves.

Wana Solutions, Uganda
Loans to distribute liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) equipment and stoves to Ugandan households and entrepreneurs to reduce household costs and reliance on polluting, less sustainable fuel sources.


PROBLEM #2: Energy products are often not available at “The Last Mile”

Affordable clean energy products like solar lanterns and energy-efficient cookstoves are not readily available to most bottom of the pyramid consumers, despite their potential to save costs.

Proposed Solution

Loans for retailers. When retailers have the credit they need to buy clean energy products in bulk, they can sell that inventory at an affordable price but also turn a profit. This fuels a supply chain that extends these products into rural and remote areas where they would not otherwise be available.

Our Partners

Angaza Design, Zambia
Loans to support sales agents to obtain pay-as-you-go solar products and sell them to end consumers.

Barefoot Power, Tanzania
Loans for small to medium-sized solar product distributors to expand adoption in rural areas.

Credit Mongol, Mongolia
Loans for clean energy and energy-efficient products in one of the most polluted countries on earth.

EarthSpark International, Haiti
Loans for retailers to purchase and re-sell both solar products and clean cookstoves to expand last-mile distribution.

Entrepreneurs du Monde, Burkina Faso
Loans to help retailers open stores and sell clean cookstoves as well as provide cookstoves to households and professionals who sell local food.

Kopernik, Indonesia
Loans to alleviate supply chain challenges by distributing technology products such as solar lamps through “Tech Kiosks” located in rural communities across Indonesia.

NOTS Lampe Solaire, Mali
Loans for distributors and women’s associations to sell solar lamps with an aim to replace all kerosene lamps in Mali with clean, safe solar alternatives.

One Degree Solar, Kenya
Loans for retailers to purchase and re-sell solar devices that can charge phones, lights and batteries.

Paradigm Project, Kenya
Loans to clean cookstove distributors, increasing access to safer and more energy-efficient stoves across the value chain.

Solar Sister, Uganda
Loans for women micro-retailers to buy inventories of solar lights to sell in their communities.

StoveTeam International, Honduras
Loans that enable factory owners to provide clean stoves to distribution centers, allowing them to increase accessibility to these safer and more efficient stoves.

UpEnergy, Uganda
Loans to expand distribution of clean cookstoves through community-based organizations and retailers in rural Uganda.

XacBank, Mongolia
Loans for energy-efficient housing supplies and renovations, hybrid vehicles and more.

What is Success?

Over the next decade, we want to see clean energy products become regular household necessities. We define success as:

  • Sustainable supply chains: Clean energy products and services being delivered through permanent, profitable channels.
  • Social dividends: Improvements in health and well-being. Solar lights extending study and work hours, women and children no longer inhaling fumes from open fires, and more.
  • Falling prices: Costs coming down as the market becomes more competitive, expanding access even further.