1. For Earth Day, your first $10 SunFunder investment is free!

    If you haven’t yet made your first investment on SunFunder, there’s no better day than Earth Day to do it. The first $10 is on us, because Happy Earth Day! 

    image

    By investing in solar, you are helping to:

    Combat climate change with a low hanging fruit. Few actions could reduce carbon emissions as cheaply and easily as the phase-out of fuel-based lighting such as kerosene-fueled lamps, candles, and battery-powered flashlights. UNEP estimated in 2013 that fuel-based lighting contributes 74 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually, equivalent to emissions from 18 million mid-size cars. For more environmental benefits from ending the use of kerosene lamps, read this.

    Lower the barriers to education for children, especially young girls. Children in off-grid communities are tasked with household chores during the daytime, taking precious time away from schooling. When night falls, they have to study under poor conditions by candle light or a kerosene lamp. With solar powered lighting at night, they are able to add more hours of effective studying every night and have a better chance of excelling in school.

    Create healthier living conditions for families. Every person that is exposed to the fumes of a kerosene lamp on a daily basis for a year risks the same health dangers as smoking 208 cigarettes a year. Switching from kerosene to solar is a quick way for families in off-grid communities to lead healthier lives. The proof is in the pudding: in various impact assessment reports of solar projects around the world, solar light users have consistently self reported significant reduction in coughing and other respiratory problems since they stopped using kerosene lamps. 

    It should be obvious: Earth Day or not, investing in solar is a great choice. To send a solar investment gift this Earth Day or on any other day, select the “Gifts” tab after clicking “Invest” on any project page. Apply coupon EARTHDAY today to invest your first $10 for free:

    image



  2. An important security update

    On April 7, an internet-wide security vulnerability was reported for OpenSSL, the software used to encrypt web communications on the majority of e-commerce sites.  You can learn more about this bug, called Heartbleed on Guardian and CNET.

    The SunFunder team responded promptly to this alert and patched the vulnerability on its web server on April 8th. Even though we found no evidence of any unauthorized access, we also took the extra step of reissuing new encryption certificates with new private keys.

    SunFunder only stores your email address and encrypted account password and we maintain a very high standard of security around access to this informationWe do not store any payment information on the SunFunder site. 
    Balanced Payments handles all processing of credit card transactions and they issued a statement recently that no customer data was compromised by this and that they have already patched their systems as well.

    SunFunder is safe from this vulnerability. Please feel free to reach out if you have any thoughts or concerns around this. 



  3. Our Biggest Crowd Investment To Date

    By Cindy Nawilis, community & operations lead

    In July 2012, SunFunder launched with a $4,000 solar crowd project to benefit 500 people in the Palawan islands of the Philippines. Since then, we have attracted more than $414,000 in hybrid capital investments for 20 more solar projects in  5 other countries. With that kind of track record and community support, we can now raise much larger crowd investments at a time for individual projects; last week, we successfully funded a $30,000 microgrid solar crowd project in India and launched a $50,000 solar crowd project in Ntungamo, Uganda.

    image

    Switch On Ntungamo is the fifth project that has been launched under SunFunder’s partnership with SolarNow. Our last project with SolarNow was successfully funded in just 14 days in February, so we’re excited to do even better now!

    Like previous projects with SolarNow, Switch On Ntungamo focuses on distributing 50W solar home systems to households in rural districts of Uganda. However, to further lower the cost of solar, SolarNow has extended their consumer financing from 12 month to 18 month payment plans. For this reason, they need more working capital loans upfront, which we feel confident that our community is ready to supply. You can learn more about the project details on our website, and please consider investing in the project:

    Let’s Prove Solar is Economically Viable and Ultimately Bankable

    With this project as with all of our projects, SunFunder is out to prove the economic viability of solar in emerging markets. Proving solar’s economic viability is necessary to unlock greater access to finance for solar companies in emerging markets. The world needs nearly $1 trillion in cumulative investment to achieve universal energy access by 2030 according to International Energy Agency. But right now, most North American and European banks and traditional solar financiers deem the off-grid solar sector too small, too risky and too experimental. Hence the sector is lacking the critical access to finance to grow, which impedes the global progress to achieve universal energy access by 2030.

    To ensure that capital investments flow into the off-grid solar sector, SunFunder provides people anywhere in the world a way to invest in off-grid solar projects and help startup solar companies scale. These crowd investments are complemented with private investments from accredited investors to meet the growing working capital needs of those solar companies, which is much larger than what crowd investments alone could supply. Switch On Ntungamo follows this hybrid capital model; the project’s $50,000 crowd investment is complemented by a $200,000 private investment from SunFunder’s private investment facility, the the Solar Empowerment Fund.



  4. Our Fastest Crowdfunding Yet

    image

    By Cindy Nawilis, community & operations lead

    Thank you to all of the 362 investors who fully funded our first microgrid solar project in India. You helped us set yet another new record on an exciting milestone, and words cannot express our gratitude for your support. 

    I see successes such as this as evidence that when given the outlet, people are eager to support the proliferation of solar around the world. Our reasons to do so may vary, but we all converge. For example, Thad Curtz actively invests in solar through SunFunder because it is one of the many ways he and his wife strive to reduce their carbon footprint. Another SunFunder has told us that as a college student, he has some money saved that he won’t be needing to use until he graduates. Since that money won’t be gaining much interest value just sitting in a savings bank account, he would rather put that money to good use by investing it in SunFunder projects and getting it repaid in time before he graduates. I invest because I’ve seen first hand in Indonesia what a difference a solar light makes for families that don’t have access to electricity and had been using kerosene lamps at night. Everyone has a unique motive to invest in solar through SunFunder. What’s yours?

    Tell us your reason for investing in SunFunder in the comments section of this blog or by emailing it to connect@sunfunder.com. We’ll then share them as its own blog post! And since we’ve got you energized about investing in solar, why not check out our latest solar project in Uganda and send a gift investment to someone you care about:

    image



  5. 5 Fully Repaid Projects

    image

    By Cindy Nawilis, community & operations lead

    When it rains, it pours. The sunnier version of this saying has definitely been true for SunFunder recently in relation to fully repaid projects. It only makes sense: more and more projects are getting fully repaid as time passes. Before we know it, we’ll have been doing this for 2 years!

    We received the final repayment of 1200 more solar lights for Copperbelt this week. The project benefited students and teachers in the Copperbelt district of Zambia with low-cost solar lanterns sold by SunnyMoney. Our sincerest thanks goes to all 146 of you who invested in this project.

    This week is extremely momentous for SunnyMoney. Not only did SunnyMoney fully repay this project, which is now their third with SunFunder that is fully repaid, they’ve also announced an incredible milestone: they have sold 1 million solar lights in Africa. This was a goal they had set in 2006, and they were able to accomplish it in just 8 years thanks to supporters like you.

    You can check out what one million solar lights mean in terms of the generated impact for African households on their website

    We congratulate the entire SunnyMoney and SolarAid team on this wonderful milestone, and we thank them for all their hard work! 


  6. There are more people in Africa with cellphones than there are with access to electricity. Isn’t it time we really deliver universal energy access?

    afrographique:

    Infographic depicting smart and “dumb” mobile phone numbers on the African continent. Data from Informa Telecoms & Media.



  7. You Are Proving the Economic Viability of Microgrid Solar

    By Cindy Nawilis, community & operations lead

    image

    If you have not yet invested in our latest project in India, you may want to get on it quickly. It’s 60% funded in just one week, which is quite the accomplishment considering that at $30,000, it is our largest crowdfunding target for a single project to date. It’s clear that our community (including you!) are responding very well to SunFunder’s expansion to India with Mera Gao Power and to our efforts to prove the economic viability of off-grid solar.

    This project is also our first microgrid solar project. It is different from other solar projects because microgrid solar lights up entire villages at a time, providing electricity to 25-30 households as a continuing service from a single installation. At just 40 cents a week, it’s cheaper, cleaner and overall better for each household than kerosene or diesel, the two incumbent energy sources most typically used in Sitapur district. 

    For those looking to understand how the numbers add up, here’s how it works. The cost of each Mera Gao Power migrogrid installation is $1,000. SunFunder’s loan will pay for approximately two-thirds of each microgrid, thus a loan size of $30,000 will effectively finance 50 microgrid installations, impacting 1,250 households. The average household size in the area is 5 people, so with a $30,000 we will impact 6,250 people with nightly access to 2 LED lights and phone charging. That’s enormous.

    So help us prove the economic viability of microgrid solar. If the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so the proof of solar is in the projects—the more projects you help fully fund, the more we have to show that solar works everywhere, even in the most remote parts of the world. 

    image



  8. SunFunder Expands to India With Our First Microgrid Solar Project

    image

    In India alone, 400 million people live without access to electricity. That’s half of Asia’s total off-grid population, and almost comparable to Africa’s off-grid population of 587 million people. It is critical that India gets addressed when solving the problems of global energy poverty. This is why SunFunder has partnered with Mera Gao Power to finance our very first solar project in India.  It is also our first microgrid solar project.

    Light and Information Access for Sitapur District

    We kick off our new partnership with a $30,000 project that will impact 6,250 people in Sitapur district of Uttar Pradesh. Families will benefit from Mera Gao Power’s solar microgrid, which supplies every house with 2 LED lights and a phone charger at a price that’s affordable for all: just 40 cents a week.

    The project’s impact is a small slice of India’s off-grid population, but it is a sure step toward a modern energy lifestyle. And for many of Mera Gao Power’s customers, this will be the first time they are experiencing light and phone charging at home. We invite you to join us in our effort to increase energy access in India.

    image



  9. 4 Projects Are Now 100% Repaid

    Our list of fully repaid projects keeps growing, and we are now at 4 projects that have crossed the finish line. This month Angaza Design made their final repayment for PAYGO Solar for Nairobi Slums, a project that kickstarted the distribution of the award-winning, pay-as-you-go solar product the SoLite 3 in Kenya. We send a huge thanks to the 91 early funders who helped in getting this project off the ground.

    With every project that gets fully repaid, the SunFunder community is proving out several critical points:

    • Solar energy is economically viable for low-income communities living without electricity. In fact, it is so viable that off-grid solar companies are profiting enough to pay back their loans while continuing to scale up to meet solar’s rising demand. 
    • Crowdfunding is catalytic. If not banks, who will help the off-grid solar companies build the necessary track record and credit history to become bankable? The answer is you. Your collective loans give them the opportunity to prove out their business models, and with the traction they’re making through paying back your loans, SunFunder can confidently approach accredited and institutional investors to follow suit.
    • Off-grid solar is bankable. The track record and traction that off-grid solar companies is gaining with SunFunder provides evidence to large financial institutions that these companies are not as risky as previously perceived and are in fact bankable. As the International Energy Agency has stated, the world needs nearly $1 trillion in cumulative investment to achieve universal energy access by 2030. The more we can leverage crowdfunding and other innovative, community-backed approaches to prove that the off-grid solar sector is worth the investment for big IFI’s like the World Bank, the better off the 1.3 billion unelectrified population will be in the coming years

    This means that every dollar that you put toward solar ends up being worth significantly more in the long run because of what it enables. We are grateful for your support, and we look forward to financing energy access some more with your help.



  10. Where Do The World’s Off-Grid Majority Live?

    By Cindy Nawilis, community & operations lead

    An overwhelming majority of the world’s off-grid population reside in Africa and Asia. This graph helps illustrate: 

    image

    But if you approach Asia’s off-grid population with a different angle, the problem doesn’t seem to be so dire. Asia’s off-grid population of 798 million makes up only 21% of Asia’s total population of nearly 3.7 billion people, and most of them live in India where a national solar mission is already underway. On the other hand, 8 out of 9 people in Sub-Sahara Africa lack access to electricity. This is why Africa is typically at the center stage of all energy access discussions. 

    image

    Here at SunFunder, we understand that both regions are equally important when tackling the problems of energy poverty. Aside from our first project in the Philippines back in 2012, SunFunder has been focusing mostly on solar projects in East Africa. That doesn’t mean that Asia is out of our minds; in fact, we’ll soon be back engaging in projects in Asia with a new partner that we are very excited to work with. 

    If you’ve signed up at SunFunder, you’ll hear about our newest project launch shortly. If you haven’t done so, we encourage you to sign up so you can be the first to know when the next project goes live. Thanks for tuning in!

Real Time Web Analytics