Cleantech Investment through Microloans for Developing Countries
A 26-year-old Australian teacher, Hugh Whalan, has started a non-profit agency called Energy in Common that allows energy conscious investors to make "microloans" to individuals to promote renewable energy projects in developing countries. These small loans, some for as little as $100, are designed to finance individual businesses and homes with simple clean energy generating tools like solar panels and windmills. Since more that 1.5 million people around the world do not have reliable access to electricity, such projects could potentially provide clean, renewable power to operate basic necessities like lights and refrigerators.
Whalan explains that his travels left him with the realization that major companies have failed to deliver clean energy to remote areas because "for many years, investment was channeled into large-scale projects."
Although Energy in Common has only funded about two dozen clean energy projects so far, their goal is to make microloans to 15 million people over the next five years. In combination with other agencies working to bring poor families clean energy -- like Kiva and Global Giving -- such programs could empower struggling entrepreneurs and eventually serve to reduce the global carbon footprint as well.
image credit: Department for International Development via Flickr