Christian Aid launches microfinance project to promote solar lighting

Microfinance Focus, February 04, 2011: Christian Aid, a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of 100 churches and church-related organisations has teamed up with solar lighting specialist d.light design  and three local partner organisations to launch an innovative microfinance project to promote solar lighting .The project will commence in Jharkhand, and subsequently move on to Orissa and Chhattisgarh within a year.

Christian Aid has provided funding for the first 2500 lanterns and will work with its Indian partners to identify young people to become ‘rural entrepreneurs’ who can manage the distribution and finance alongside a network of women’s self-help groups.

D.light will supply the lanterns and train the rural entrepreneurs in customer education, battery replacement and sales and demand generation.

The partner organisations will work with the entrepreneurs to promote the technology within the villages, provide training in financial management and ensure the sustainability of the project.  The self help groups will collect orders from villagers and supply the solar lanterns on credit, charged at 12 per cent annual interest over 10 months.  This interest will cover the administrative costs of the scheme and allow money to be reinvested in new stock which will be purchased directly from d.light, eventually making the whole project self sustaining.

d.light is an international consumer products company serving people without access to reliable electricity. Since the launch of its solar lantern product line in 2008, the company has positively impacted 2.5 million people in 40 countries worldwide. D.light is funded by prestigious social investment and venture capital firms in the US and India, including Omidyar Network, Acumen Fund, and Gray Matters Capital.

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Christian Aid and Solar Lantern

It is heartening to note that solar energy is coming in a big way lighting millions of people in India particularly the most backward states. This could be extended to rural Tamil Nadu also.

Solar Lights are the Way of the Future

What great news. Solar energy and solar lights are the way of the future. It would be wonderful to see regulations ensure that a percentage of a home's energy use be generated through installed solar panels.

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