Photo courtesy of EarthSpark International.

This post is the first of a 3 part series highlighting some of the innovative loans that the Kiva community has helped us test and scale.

There are 1.3 billion people worldwide who live without access to electricity. What does that mean exactly? It means that those 1.3 billion individuals experience limited, if any, access to clean water, adequate sanitation and healthcare as well as reliable lighting, heating, cooking and mechanical power. 

Kiva partners with organizations all over the world with various missions, and some of these organizations are working to expand access to clean energy and to reduce the number of people who continue to live without electricity. To date, more than 26,000 borrowers have gained access to clean energy through loans supported on Kiva. 

Three inspiring examples of this work are Kiva's Field Partner EarthSpark International, Soluz Honduras and COCAFCAL. They are dedicated to eradicating energy poverty and empowering communities in Haiti and Honduras.

About 75% of Haitian households lack access to electricity and instead rely on toxic and expensive chemicals like kerosene for energy production. EarthSpark International is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide affordable and portable solar lighting as well as cookstoves to people who need it. EarthSpark has spearheaded a few creative initiatives to accomplish their goals. One strategy EarthSpark has used to combat the high rates of energy poverty has been the implementation of town-sized microgrids, which provide clean and reliable power to hundreds of homes and businesses through a hybrid generation power system. While building a successful microgrid in Les Anglais that provided power to 430 homes, the organization has created a spin-off company, SparkMeter. This company now commercializes meters that provide an efficient metering and billing system to grid operations in developing markets worldwide. Over a period of 34 months as a Kiva Field Partner, the total amount of loans raised through EarthSpark has been $195,350.

In Honduras, 50% of the rural population lives without access to electricity; this is among the lowest rates in Latin America. Kiva has partnered with two organizations in Honduras who work to provide electricity to this population of the country. Soluz Honduras is one of these agencies. At Soluz Honduras, the mission is to increase energy access for Honduras through the implementation of solar technology. With the help of Kiva lenders, Soluz Honduras is able to provide loans to urban and rural households or businesses, including rural health clinics, for investments in solar products that are specifically tailored to their needs and budgets. Loans are also taken out by entrepreneurs who want to finance solar product inventory to aid in the construction of his or her own solar product distribution business. $131,925 has been raised through Soluz Honduras as a Kiva Field Partner over 16 months.

Another one of Kiva’s Field Partners in Honduras is Cooperativa Capucas Limitada, or COCAFCAL, located in western Honduras. COCAFCAL is a non-profit cooperative comprised of over 800 coffee farmers and holds the objectives of reducing poverty, increasing the standard of living for the communities of western Honduras, and promoting sustainable development throughout the region. To date, about 5,000 individuals have benefited from its development programs. One aspect of COCAFCAL’s work is supporting income diversification while maintaining sustainability. For example, the organization actively works with farmers to introduce beekeeping and honey production into the farming system. These outlets are promising sources of income and environmentally friendly with the bees providing improvements to the farm’s ecosystem. Together, the members of COCAFCAL produce over 28,000 pounds of coffee per crop and this organic Fair Trade coffee and other organic products are exported internationally to North America and various European countries. To date, $244,825 has been raised for borrower though COCAFCAL over 7 months as a Kiva Field Partner.

Kiva lenders have embraced clean energy and sustainability loans, allowing us to continue to test what works and what doesn't. We look forward to continuing to partner with more organizations working on this important issue, to reach more communities with safe, clean sources of electricity.

 

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