> 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.

New research conducted by the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) asked microbusiness owners in the United States about their current finances. The results, captured in a CFED Blog post, indicate that a concerning percentage of businesses don’t have the financial means to cope with economic shocks. Fifty-five percent of respondents reported that they could only cover one month or less of business expenses with their current savings. Thirty percent of those polled had no savings at all. Cash flow difficulty was the most commonly cited challenge.

Drawing from the most recent MMU State of the Industry report, a new post on the GSMA Blog synthesizes global trends in mobile-based insurance services and indicates key factors driving uptake. There were 84 live mobile insurance services in 2013, 16 of which were launched that year. The regions with the most mobile insurance schemes were Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The most popular type of mobile insurance, offered by roughly three-quarters of the surveyed services, is life cover. Some of the factors associated with successful services are easy to understand terms and conditions, “freemium” business models in which customers receive free insurance in return for meeting certain airtime usage levels, and convenient account debit methods, such as charging customer service fees from an airtime wallet rather than from a mobile money wallet, which is less likely to have an active balance.

Image credit: Ianf