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Microloans for clean energy in the developing world

Nonprofit & Social Cause

One-third of the world’s population today has no access to any form of modern energy, relying instead on highly polluting fuels like wood and kerosene. Working on the premise that reliable energy is a key to fighting poverty — and that it needs to be clean — Energy in Common is a New York-based nonprofit dedicated to facilitating microloans to bring green energy to people in need. Potential lenders begin by browsing EIC’s list of “entrepreneurs”–its term for anyone in a developing nation who needs a new source of energy for a better future. Several African street vendors are currently featured there, for example, as are a baker, a restaurant owner and various people seeking more reliable energy for home use. Solar lanterns and clean-burning stoves are the primary energy sources being requested, with corresponding loan amounts of between USD 26 and USD 500. Listed for each individual is not just the loan amount and term, however, but also the projected reduction in emissions that will be achieved through the new energy. Lenders pick someone they’d like to help, and make the loan of their choice through the site. Once an individual’s request is fully funded, the money gets dispersed through one of EIC’s trusted field partners, which also provide training and oversight. From there, the energy helps fight both emissions and poverty, enabling the individual to repay the loan over time. When that happens, the money is put back in the lender’s account while the associated reduction in carbon emissions is calculated and made available to the lender in the form of carbon offsets. P2P loans to help fight poverty in the developing world are no longer uncommon, but incorporating clean energy into the bargain promises to set EIC’s model apart. One to partner with, emulate, or otherwise get involved in…? (Related: Fighting poverty through microloan guaranteesP2P student loans for the developing worldDonation-microloan hybrid helps rural Chinese.)



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