One of the biggest obstacles for a low income coffee producer to buy a roof-top solar system is obviously the cost. IDEAS partnership with the coffee cooperatives and fair trade coffee companies has allowed the farmers to obtain longer term financing with payments that are compatible with the coffee growing season. For example, Root Capital agreed to consider the coffee coops’ request for 3 year loans so the coops can drop the payment amount for roof-top solar systems. The first success of this system was 50 systems that were installed in July 2010. Root Capital lent for 3 years to the coop, which in turn has lent for 3 years to its members. TecAp has worked to repeat this with other fair trade coffee coops. IDEAS repeated its success with another international lender by assisting Oikocredit to make its first $100,000 loan to solar energy for farmers in the “Cooperativa 20 de Abril” in Nicaragua.
To assist rural families that are not part of cooperatives, IDEAS began working with microfinance institutions early on in the TecAp microfranchise. In recent years, it has worked intensively with Financiera FDL that has lower interest rates and good terms for low income rural families. The youth micro-technicians, trained by IDEAS, find a potential buyer and collect basic information. FDL then does due diligence on the family and then lends the funds. The family contracts the services of IDEAS that then use the youth to install the system. It is a win-win for all concerned.
Thanks to Julia Manzerova for the photo of rooftop solar panels attached to this post.