During my fellowship in Nicaragua I had the pleasure of working with an exciting new Kiva partner named Tecnosol. Tecnosol is the Central American leader in the sale and installation of decentralized renewable energy sources, including solar, wind, hydro, and biogas.
Mural outside Tecnosol's office in Managua, Nicaragua
There is a high demand for renewable energy products in Nicaragua, especially among remote populations that are unreached by the country’s electric infrastructure. Despite the need, however, Nicaragua’s vast low-income population simply cannot afford the up-front financial cost of these systems.
Kiva is partnering with Tecnosol to provide a funding source for micro-loans. These loans will bring Tecnosol’s clean energy technology to people living off the grid and who would otherwise lack the economic capacity to obtain it. The partnership enables households and businesses to generate their own clean energy and replace toxic and expensive sources of light and heat such as kerosene, diesel, and wood. Lower recurring costs and increased economic productivity brought to fruition by renewable energy technology will help borrowers repay their loans over time.
Loans originated by Tecnosol will generally correspond with the following 5 themes:
1. Solar Home Systems: Tecnosol offers a wide variety of solar home systems depending on their client’s energy consumption needs. Loans will range from solar lamps that provide illumination and the ability to charge a cell phone to large systems that can generate enough energy to power multiple lights, home appliances, radios, televisions, and computers. In addition, systems are modular, which means clients can gradually add solar panels and batteries to meet increasing energy demands.
2. Biodigesters: Tecnosol’s biodigester systems transform livestock waste into organic fertilizer for crops and biogas, which can be used for cooking, heat, and electricity.
3. Solar Electric Fences: Tecnosol’s solar electric fences can be easily moved so that farmers can efficiently redirect their herds to avoid overgrazing.
4. Solar Refrigerators: Tecnosol’s solar refrigerators run on electricity provided by solar energy and usually have lower energy consumption rates than regular refrigerators. These refrigerators can be used for a variety of purposes, including helping small, off-the-grid restaurants and stores carry an increased variety of food products and cut down on waste.
5. Solar Water Pumps: Tecnosol’s solar water pumps help increase the productivity of farmers through better irrigation while reducing their energy costs and increasing security.
A woman named Zobeyda was one of the first-ever Tecnosol borrowers to receive a Kiva loan. The loan enabled her to obtain a 100-watt solar home system, and I had the pleasure of meeting her while it was being installed.
Zobeyda lives in a small rural Nicaraguan town without access to grid electricity. She is married with two children (5 and 7), who both attend school in their community. Last year Zobeyda opened a small grocery store in her home in order to supplement her husband’s salary, which alone is not sufficient enough to support their family. She currently uses candles, kerosene, and battery-powered lights for illumination; however, the family can only afford to use resources that will supply two hours of light each evening. It is important to Zobeyda and her husband to have electricity in their home in order to keep their family healthy and safe by avoiding harmful kerosene fumes and fire hazards caused by open flames. The family will also save on a daily basis since they won’t have to spend money on expensive, inefficient energy sources. Zobeyda will be able to keep her store open after dark and her children will be able to complete their school assignments in the evening.
When I met Zobeyda she was very grateful and extremely excited for the functionality the technology would bring to her family. Below are some photos from the installation:
Zobeyda’s loan was funded on Kiva.org in less than 24 hours and she is currently in the process of re-paying her loan! You can view her official profile on Kiva.org HERE.
Interested in supporting green-themed loans?
Lend to Tecnosol borrowers HERE (keep checking if there aren’t any loans available as Tecnosol will be regularly be posting new ones)
Browse available green-themed loans from other Kiva partners HERE
You can also join a Kiva lending team that focuses on green-themed loans, including Tecnosol’s lending team HERE