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 and her kids with their solar panel before the installation

Tecnosol technician installing one of Zobeyda’s three light sockets

Zobeyda and her kids observing the installation

Two of Tecnosol’s technicians installing the solar panel on Zobeyda’s roof

Finishing the installation (the solar panel is just to the left of the technician on the roof)

The installed solar charge controller (grey unit), DC-AC inverter (blue unit), and solar system maintenance instructions. The solar charge controller regulates and monitors the electric current that is added to and drawn from the battery. The DC-AC inverter converts DC energy from the battery (charged by the solar system) into AC current to enable the user to plug-in electronics (the plugs are on the right side of the pictured blue inverter).

Zobeyda blowing out her kerosene lamp after her solar home system was installed and fully functional

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

About the author

Matt Bastone

Matt is extremely excited to join the Kiva family. He is fascinated by the sustainable manner in which microfinance is used to alleviate poverty and how Kiva has used technology as a conduit for reaching people across the world. Matt is in pursuit of a career in microfinance and believes it suits him well given his professional background, Christian faith, and passion for leveraging innovation to help others. Matt was born and raised in Southern California and graduated summa cum laude with a business degree from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He is a CPA and began the first three years of his career with Deloitte serving clients in a wide variety of industries and gaining valuable experience in technical accounting, internal control theory, and project management. Since his time at Deloitte, Matt has gained finance experience through roles involving budgeting, forecasting, modeling, strategic planning, and process improvement implementation. Matt loves to travel and has most notably backpacked through Europe and spent an extended period of time in South America learning Spanish. He enjoys being active and particularly loves playing soccer, golfing, surfing, and snowboarding. Matt is humbled by the opportunity to take an active role in furthering Kiva’s impact.