Gottlieb works for ELEPHANT ENERGY, a Barefoot Power distributor in Namibia.
Gottlieb works for Elephant Energy. Elephant Energy is a Namibian Trust that employs a market-based approach to spreading access to affordable energy technologies in rural areas throughout Namibia. These are technologies that improve the quality of life for people living without electricity, who are forced to rely upon costly, inefficient, and health-hazardous energy sources such as candles, kerosene, and single-use batteries. Because of the barriers imposed by Namibia’s vast distances and limited transportation network, Elephant Energy’s strategy focuses on a highly decentralized network of village-based energy entrepreneurs who bring both education and products to their communities.
Gottlieb lives in Oshakati, Namibia with his wife and children. He has been an actor in rural development over the past 16 years and is driven by his passion for delivering renewable energy solutions to Namibia’s rural areas. Amazingly, he has worked in rural areas in all 107 constituencies in Namibia, which has brought him a keen understanding of the realities faced by the many thousands of Namibians who live off the electric grid. Gottlieb understands both the social and technical sides of solar energy, is skilled in installing, maintaining and repairing solar home systems, and has a keen awareness of what drives and motivates the adoption of new energy practices by rural families.
This loan will be used to purchase the inventory needed to expand Elephant Energy’s rural entrepreneur model to six new regions of Namibia that are home to the majority of Namibia’s unelectrified population. This is part of Elephant Energy’s strategy to provide improved energy alternatives to 10,000 homes (or 50,000 individuals) in the year 2013.
Barefoot Power is a valued partner because they provide products that are in high demand by Namibia’s off-grid populations. The products are sturdy and rugged enough to withstand Namibia’s harsh desert environments, affordable enough for even the poorest customers to afford, and their focus on integrating cell-phone charging functions provides a huge value-add to these products at a time when the number of rural Namibians with cell phones is rising at a rapid rate.
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.