DC-based Microfinance Organization Awarded $100,000 by USAID to Bring Solar Energy to Uganda

FINCA International and USAID partner to support innovative new program in Uganda.

23 February 2015, FINCA International, a leading microfinance organization today announced a $100,000 award from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to help make solar energy products more widely available in Uganda. FINCA is using Stage 1 funding from USAID’s Development Innovation Venture (DIV) to boost productivity and reduce energy costs for households and businesses at the base of the pyramid.

FINCA, which provides financial services to nearly two million low-income clients in 23 countries, is exploring models to sustainably deliver life-enhancing non-financial products and services to people in need. In Uganda, FINCA is providing a link between suppliers and micro-retailers who will sell solar lamps in their local communities. FINCA will provide training to the micro-retailers, as well as loans to consumers who wish to purchase the lamps and potentially other solar products.

Rupert Scofield, FINCA’s President and CEO, said: “FINCA has 30 years of social enterprise experience and deep knowledge of the challenges that our poorest clients face. With USAID’s support, we are leveraging our network to complement the critical microfinance services that we already provide to entrepreneurs.”

Clean energy products, like solar, benefit clients by providing healthier environments, replacing energy sources like kerosene inside the home. Clients who have purchased solar systems and lanterns report improved respiratory and eye health, better light that allows children to study at night, and substantial savings on lighting and phone charging.
By using micro-retailers as the backbone of the distribution network, FINCA can help them grow their small businesses in a commercially viable and sustainable way. FINCA will measure the impact of the project and then consider scaling it up throughout Uganda and beyond.

According to Scofield,

“Access to energy is essential to help people become productive and make meaningful, positive changes in their lives.”

About Development Innovation Ventures

USAID’s DIV is an investment platform that finds, tests, and scales innovative solutions to development challenges around the world. Through a year-round open competition for ideas, DIV seeks ideas that demonstrate cost-effectiveness relative to traditional approaches that gather rigorous evidence of their intervention’s impacts, and that have the potential to scale through the public or private sector without long-term DIV support. Visit http://www.usaid.gov/div.

About FINCA International

FINCA International’s mission is to alleviate poverty through lasting solutions that help people build assets, create jobs, and raise their standard of living. Together with leading, socially responsible investment partners, FINCA owns and operates a network of microfinance institutions serving nearly 2 million low-income entrepreneurs and their communities in 23 countries. The network operates with a formal, double-bottom-line approach of financial sustainability and social performance. Visit www.FINCA.org or follow us on Twitter.