Mircoloans for Clean Energy: The Perfect Fit 8/30/2010 10:09:27 AM



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. No single solution can meet our society's future energy needs. The answer lies instead in a family of diverse energy technologies that share a common thread: they do not deplete our natural resources or destroy our environment.

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 their 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.

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