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> Posted by Jeffrey Riecke, Communications Associate, CFI
Farming in developing countries is responsible for 70 percent of the world’s food supply, and farmers in developing countries are vulnerable to the effects of climate change. What will happen to the world’s food and to those making a living from small-scale agriculture when the frequency and intensity of extreme weather arising from climate change take stronger hold?
> Posted by Center Staff
This edition of top picks features posts that spotlight green loans reducing energy poverty, savings and loans to improve the vulnerability of microbusinesses, and factors driving uptake of mobile insurance services.
In celebration of Earth Day, the Kiva Blog took the opportunity to share their work on green loans. These loans to individuals and small business owners help with the high upfront costs of clean energy technology. Globally, 1.3 billion people live in energy poverty – without access to modern energy services. Green loans support healthy and environmentally friendly energy switches, like from kerosene to solar lighting. Kerosene lighting produces black carbon or soot which is harmful to breath and also a greenhouse gas. Kiva has facilitated the funding of 39,000 green loans.
> Posted by Sebastian Groh, Project Manager, MicroEnergy International
The Financial Inclusion 2020 project at the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion is building a movement toward full financial inclusion by 2020. Accordingly, this blog series will spotlight financial inclusion efforts around the globe, share insights coming out of the creation of a roadmap to full financial inclusion, and highlight findings from research on the “invisible market.”
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon recently called upon the international community to commit to a new groundbreaking initiative seeking Sustainable Energy for All (SE4A) by the year 2030. At MicroEnergy International (MEI) we have been working towards this goal since 2002 by supporting microfinance institutions (MFIs) in the process of developing and providing “green microloans,” financial products that help clients finance a renewable or efficient energy system for their home or business. Our work is based on the fundamental belief that the relationship between energy inclusion and financial inclusion is a critical impact point that has positive effects on the poverty levels of low-income clients.
Perhaps the linkage isn’t immediately clear, so a few examples will help us explain.
Financial inclusion leads to energy inclusion. Access to finance can lead to energy inclusion simply in terms of affordability and financial means. People who have access to financial services are able to finance their basic energy needs and either pay for grid-supplied electricity or purchase a distributed energy generation system of their own. These systems have a prohibitive initial investment burden that usually cannot be covered by those at the base of the pyramid (BoP). Innovative green credit design allows clients to pay in monthly installments that correspond to their current expenditures on energy appliances and sources as well as potential savings and income generation opportunities. A scheme of that type has paid off for about two million Solar Home System users today in the country of Bangladesh, according to the World Bank’s IDCOL Solar Home Systems Project.
>Posted by Jeffrey Riecke
As a newcomer to CFI, I can remember my first impression of the name “Center for Financial Inclusion.” Coming from an environmental background, I didn’t think the work of an organization called the Center for Financial Inclusion would have pervasive environmental impacts. I settled with the notion that CFI simply worked to ensure that quality financial services were widely available. In learning more about CFI and microfinance, it hasn’t taken long to discover that environmental sustainability is an aspect of nearly every prong of CFI’s work.
For me, this relationship with the environment is nicely illustrated in the findings of CFI’s publication Microfinance and Energy Poverty: Findings from the Energy Links Project, which was released in September 2011. The publication summarizes the findings of the Energy Links project, a three-year pilot by CFI, financed by USAID’s Microenterprise Development Office and the Wallace Global Fund. In the words of the publication’s authors:
“Energy Links’ aim was to determine how the established microfinance sector in African countries can alleviate energy poverty by increasing access to small-scale clean energy solutions at the household level.”
> Posted by Danielle Donza
Last night I saw a commercial advertising durable work boots that were lined with recycled plastic bottles. That is awesome, I thought, I love when green initiatives are also incredibly innovative.
Then, looking to get the creative, brainstorming juices flowing, I asked my boyfriend, “What else could we do to be more green?”
“You could take shorter showers,” he replied.
Whoa, hold on, that was not exactly the creativity I was hoping for, but a valid point nonetheless. Water is undoubtedly one of the most undervalued and (therefore?) wasted resources on the planet. Imagine how quick my showers would be if the price tag was ticking up like it does at the gas pump. And I applaud the efforts of Watercredit.org in working with microfinance institutions to meet the water and sanitation needs of clients in developing countries by offering WaterCredit loan products and lending models, and more.
Having recently returned from the Foromic in Costa Rica, I felt like there was a real buzz around green microfinance, perhaps influenced by Costa Rica’s goal to be the first carbon-neutral country by 2021. I was excited about a panel that provided more information on Mibanco’s PPP (people, planet, profit) Model in Peru, which emphasizes social, economic, and environmental performance. Read the rest of this entry »
> Posted by Center Staff
“Microfinance institutions may be able to help distribute and fund the purchase of low-cost sun-powered lamps, according to a report by the Washington-based Center for Financial Inclusion,” write reporters Simon Clark and Lananh Nguyen in a recent Bloomberg article.
“Microfinance and Energy Poverty: Findings from the Energy Links Project” co-author David Levaï is quoted in the October 10 article, which places the report’s findings in the context of the International Energy Agency’s first-ever estimate of the cost to end energy poverty.
The Center for Financial Inclusion at ACCION, USAID and FHI 360 recently released “Microfinance and Energy Poverty: Findings from the Energy Links Project” to disseminate the results of a three-year field project focused on leveraging microfinance institutions and savings groups in Africa to build a market and distribution channels for affordable solar lighting in rural villages on the continent.
The project, Energy Links, catalyzed and helped build distribution networks to get tens of thousands of low-cost solar-powered LED lanterns to rural populations in Mali, Uganda and Tanzania. In rural and remote areas of Africa, only 20 percent of the population is connected to electricity grids.
For more information, check out “Microfinance and Energy Poverty: Findings from the Energy Links Project” and the project page here.
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