Over the past several years, we’ve piloted FINCA + Clean Energy programs through our Uganda subsidiary, providing training sessions for energy entrepreneurs and access to small loans that allow them to purchase solar powered products (lanterns and stoves), and charging stations which are used to start small retail businesses.
Advantages to providing these opportunities vary. Some are business related; some relate to creating opportunities for expanded outreach to new populations; others relate to the environment; and still others concern quality of life.
From a business perspective, our FINCA + Energy program is helping us create linkages to manufacturers that will allow us to offer an array of products to our clients. We’re also able to negotiate bulk discounts with suppliers, as well as test product quality. We believe that this value-added service will open new markets and business opportunities for FINCA clients.
With regard to outreach, our FINCA + Energy program is a means for us to reach substantially more people living at the Bottom of the Pyramid, especially those living in rural areas where the need for access to energy sources is even more important.
From an environmental perspective, solar-powered energy products are a cleaner way for rural clients to light their homes and businesses, creating an environment where traditional energy products – kerosene, wood and charcoal – are replaced with clean energy sources. In addition, the cost of using clean energy products results in substantial savings for families and businesses, which can mean a family eats better, is able to send all the children to school, and create their own safety net through savings.
By using clean energy products, FINCA’s clients and non-clients alike benefit from a healthier environment. Clients who have purchased clean energy solar charging panels and lanterns report improved respiratory and eye health using clean energy vs. kerosene. And a highly valued benefit of using a solar home lighting system is that children can study at night, which enhances their future educational success.