Off-grid solar in Africa is bankable. Crowdfunding initiative sets out to prove it.
We've featured the work of Solar Aid and SunnyMoney in Tanzania before. As the video above shows, that work is transforming school performance, saving lives, and creating new micro-economies in the process.
But Tanzania isn't the only country where SunnyMoney's micro-enterprise model for off-grid solar development is operating. In fact a recent effort to fund solar lamp distribution in the remote region in Chadza, Zambia, has just reached an important milestone:
It has repaid its entire $10,000 crowdfunded loan in just one year.
The success of this project, which was funded through small private loans via the off-grid solar crowdfunding website SunFunder, is not just an important sign that SunnyMoney's own efforts are commercially viable. As a blog post over at SunFunder argues, this success should also send a signal to major financial institutions that the off-grid solar sector in poor communities is eminently bankable:
Getting big international finance institutions (IFI’s) like the World Bank behind off-grid solar sector is ultimately a winning scenario, because as the International Energy Agency has stated, we need nearly $1 trillion in cumulative investment to achieve universal energy access by 2030. The more we can use crowdfunding and community-backed approaches to prove that the off-grid solar sector is well worth the investment for big IFI’s, the better off the 1.3 billion unelectrified population will be in the coming years.
The SunnyMoney project is not the first success for SunFunder either. Since launching 15 months ago, the site has raised $150,000, fully funding through 1,200 total project investments with an impressive 100% repayment rate.
With big banks beginning to rethink their addiction to coal, and with investors urging action on climate change, crowdfunding efforts like SunFunder don't just create an immediate impact through the projects they support—they act as a test case for the viability of a much larger expansion of the sector.
And that expansion is desperately needed. Here's some more on the very simple SunFunder model which, incidentally, is open for investors from anywhere in the world.