Houses in East Africa without access to electricity have something to smile about. This is British investors agreed to fund them with solar kits.
“There are environmental benefits and social benefits, so it seemed like a no brainer. It’s also a chance to address inequality between rich and developing countries,” one small-scale investor, James Harman, 24, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Harman made an initiative of investing US$690 in projects initiated in Kenya and Uganda with a prospect of earning 5% interest annually from the kit repayments.
“You put the money in, except you might lose some of it and see what happens,” Harman said. Other risks include currency fluctuations, political upheaval or natural disasters.
The investment scheme, Energise Africa, is one example of so-called impact investing, where both financial and social returns – making improvements in people’s lives – are created.
The scheme is set to bear fruits having in mind that Uganda only 7% of their homesteads have access to electricity.
Through the project, every homestead that acquires the kit will have three solar lights, a mobile phone charger, and a rechargeable torch and radio at the cost of $400.
“Before we got solar, we suffered from the kerosene smoke. It created lumps in our throats, and smoke got in our noses and was everywhere,” Umaru said by email to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Harman, the young investor in Energise Africa, has promised to work with the locals to see every homestead accessing the solar panels at a cost-friendly price.
“I want to help people, I want to put my money somewhere with a decent return on investment, and I want to help reduce reliance on fossil fuels,” he said.