At Kiva, we believe in treating everyday like it’s Earth Day, which is why we’re especially proud of the green loans that fund through Kiva. These green loans are for individuals and small businesses that are reducing energy expenditures, minimizing waste and pollution, recycling, or repurposing used materials.
All Kiva green loans work towards the greater goal of alleviating energy poverty and helping the environment. The Kiva community has funded more than 39,000 green loans and in a testament to its commitment to the environment, green loans fund incredibly fast on the site. You can make a saved search so you’re notified when new green loans are posted.
To understand the impact a Kiva green loan can have, picture the town of Chinandega, Nicaragua, where the sun beats down relentlessly on inhabitants and their homes each day. It’s easy to understand why locals, like Zobeyda, are eager to harness the resource to make life a little easier, a little safer and a little healthier.
Zobeyda used a Kiva loan to purchase a 100-watt solar lighting system, and then successfully made the switch from kerosene to solar to light both her grocery shop and family home at night.
With two young children the health benefits were driving factors in the switch, as kerosene lamps produce black carbon, or soot, that leads to serious respiratory problems. However, the environmental impact of burning kerosene is just as daunting; black carbon garners less attention than CO2, but is the #2 culprit on the list of greenhouse gases contributing to climate change. Families like Zobeyda’s are making small changes that contribute to a larger shift in how people think about kerosene around the globe.
Globally, 1.3 billion people live in energy poverty and rely on dirty and dangerous kerosene lamps after dark. The United Nations Environment Program estimates that replacing common lighting sources with energy-efficient, off-grid alternatives like rechargable solar lamps will reduce carbon emissions by 74 million tons, annually.
The health benefits are pretty stunning too: traditional cookstoves cause indoor air pollution which is the leading environmental cause of death in the world, killing nearly 2 million people a year—mostly women and children.
With solar providing so many benefits, why would people continue to use expensive, inefficient and dangerous sources of energy like charcoal, kerosene or diesel? It all boils down to capital, or a lack there of. Despite the health benefits and eventual cost savings of using renewable energy sources, most cannot afford the high upfront costs of the technology without access to financing. Kiva bridges this gap and creates a win-win scenario for lenders and borrowers.
“The benefits for the borrowers are less energy consumption, more savings, and improvements in health and well-being,” explains Kiva President Premal Shah. “The benefits for all of us are increased adoption of renewable energy and a healthier shared environment.”