The “KickStart Sustainable Energy Fund” has been officially launched by Eight19 and SunnyMoney, a division of SolarAid. The revolving fund aims to provide affordable solar lighting to rural off-grid communities in East Africa with the IndiGo pay-as-you-go solar lighting products. The initial investment will fund the development of 4,000 IndiGo units.
Those partaking in the initiative will receive solar lighting and in-home phone charging for which they pay for on a weekly basis using scratchcards; similar to a pay-as-you-go mobile phone. The revenues from the scratchcards recover the costs of the units and are returned to KickStart so that units can then be delivered to new users.
The fund accepts donations or defined-term, interest-free loans from impact investors, for the working capital that will help the pay-as-you-go program evolve and grow. The program has been started with a pool from Eight19 and SolarAid of US$200,000, which will cover the first 4,000 lighting systems that will be supplied to residents in Kenya early this year.
Each IndiGo system includes a low-cost solar panel, a battery unit with inbuilt mobile phone charger and a high-efficiency LED lamp. Users buy scratchcards at around US$1 per week for a standard system.
Steve Andrews, CEO of SolarAid, said, “1.6 billion people – over one fifth of the world’s population – lack access to the electricity grid and pay high prices for kerosene to serve basic needs such as lighting. IndiGo technology provides an affordable means of delivering electricity using the sun’s power to generate clean, renewable energy at the point of use. The KickStart Fund, which is administered by SunnyMoney’s owner, the registered charity SolarAid, will provide working capital to enable IndiGo-enabled solar lights to be help many more families, bringing enormous economic benefits to local communities across the developing world.”