Although sharing the island with neighboring Dominican Republic where everyone has access to electricity, Haiti has limited access to electricity – where only 38% of Haitians in 2016 have a connection to the electrical grid, a small improvement from 28% of Haitians in 1990. Even those with access to the grid today still experience frequent blackouts and unreliable power quality.
Despite dealing with natural disasters and energy poverty, Haiti has optimistically made hard commitments to create a renewable energy economy.
Haiti is also positioned well for solar. A study by Worldwatch calculated that Haiti receives a comparable amount of average annual sunlight (calculated in global horizontal radiance) to sunny Phoenix, Arizona, making Haiti ideal for solar power. With the high cost of imported diesel, solar is cost competitive and with financing is immediately cost advantageous in Haiti.
How will large-scale solar be implemented in Haiti?
Leading the charge, millennial female social entrepreneur, Sandra Kwak, and founder of social venture 10Power, is pioneering the way in Haiti by fostering the collaborative support of the public and private sectors. Working in frontier markets, 10Power partners with local installers, providing and financing project developments for commercial-scale solar and energy storage solutions. In turn, this builds market ecosystems. “Our goal is to provide affordable, reliable renewable energy that will save businesses money and create jobs,” says Kwak.
Launched in 2016, the company has financed and installed solar power for two water purification centers, providing clean drinking water to surrounding schools and communities and supporting over 600 micro-enterprises, majority women-led. 10Power is continuing its work with plans to implement a large-scale solar energy project with an undisclosed international NGO in the coming months.
10Power’s enthusiasm for solar in Haiti is shared and supported by the local government. The Haitian Ministry of Public Works, Transportation and Communications (MTPTC) is working with the World Bank to develop a framework to deploy sustainable mini-grids. “It is exciting to see private sector and international development partnerships taking off,” says Nicolas Allien, Senior Energy Specialist and SREP-CTF Projects Coordinator at MTPTC. “We are implementing well-targeted financial instruments and policy measures in order to attract private sector investments in both on-grid and off-grid renewable energy solutions.”
10Power is honored to be a Top 5 US SheEO Venture alongside Ayzh, Greensulate, In This Together Media and LOLIWARE. SheEO is a radical new model for women investors to finance, support and celebrate female entrepreneurs.
SheEO founder Vicki Saunder’s vision is to create a $1 billion perpetual fund with 1 million activators supporting 10,000 women-led ventures to support women for generations to come. See Forbes article.
Each SheEO cohort of women investors “Activators” contribute capital as an Act of Radical Generosity. The money is pooled together into a revolving fund and invested as zero interest loans in 5 women-led Ventures selected by the Activators. All Ventures are revenue generating with export potential and creating a better world through their business model or their product and service.
Loans are paid back into the fund over 5 years and then loaned out again, which creates a perpetual fund that SheEO will pass on to daughters, nieces, granddaughters and future women leaders.
The cohort of Activators brings their economic power, expertise, advice and their vast networks to help grow the businesses of the 5 selected ventures.
All of the ventures selected by SheEO activators are solving global challenges in energy, waste, health, social justice, education and human rights.
10Power provides renewable energy internationally to global communities that lack access to electricity through project development and finance. Learn more at www.10pwr.com
Ayzh mission is to bring simplicity and dignity to women’s health with low-cost, high-quality products for women, babies and girls worldwide. Learn more at www.ayzh.com
Greensulate brings green space back to cities through green infrastructure (green roofs, green walls, and urban agriculture). Learn more at greensulate.com
LOLIWARE is the world’s first Edible Bioplastic Company dedicated to replacing plastic with edible, hypercompostable materials. Learn more at www.loliware.com
SheEO is creating a new model that will shift the world from:
B Corporations are companies that have been certified to have met rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Worldwide, there are more than 2,500 Certified B Corporations across 140 industries and 60 countries working together toward 1 unifying goal: using business as a force for good. We decided to become a Certified B Corp for several reasons:
Being Part of a Community of Leaders with Shared Values: We believe that the strength of the B Corp community—and the sense of being part of something bigger than our individual business—is one of the best reasons to become a B Corp.
Protecting Our Mission for the Long Term: Certified B Corporations, in addition to meeting rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, amend their governing documents to be more supportive of maintaining their social and environmental mission over time.
Identifying Areas for Improvement: B Corp certification is an independent, rigorous, third-party standard that evaluates every aspect of our business—from how we treat our workers, to our community involvement, to our overall effect on the environment. We believe this will help us continue to create social, environmental, and financial value.
Attracting and Retaining Top Talent: Many studies have shown that the best people want to work for a company with a larger purpose. B Corp certification helps us signal to prospective and existing partners that we are committed to using business for good.
Building Collective Voice: Many of the movements taking place around the globe—from cleantech, microfinance, and sustainable agriculture to the buy local and cooperative ownership movements—are manifestations of the same idea: how to use business for good. The B Corporation organizes and amplifies the voices of this diverse marketplace behind the power of a unifying brand.
We are proud of what our team has accomplished this year to improve our impact. Once we complete our certification, we will be eager to learn from our peers in the B Corp community about how we can do even more. This is an essential contribution toward a vision of business that works for people, the planet, and the bottom line.
Measuring Our Impact
We use the B Impact Assessment (BIA), a third-party standard created by B Lab (the non-profit behind the B Corp movement), to measure our impact. The BIA is the most widely-used impact measurement and management tool in the world. More on the BIA and B Lab can be found at bimpactassessment.net.
The BIA is used by more than 50,00 businesses to measure, compare, and improve their overall social and environmental performance, as well as by an increasing number of investors, business associations, and government entities serious about understanding and benchmarking the impact of the companies in which they invest and with which they do business.
The BIA scores companies on a 0-200 point scale. The average score on the assessment is between 40 and 60 points. Companies interested in becoming Certified B Corporations are required to score 80 points or higher. Companies that earn 130 points or higher are in the top 10% of all B Corps worldwide.
The major sections and subsections on the BIA include:
Land, Office, and Plant
Inputs (e.g., energy efficiency, water conservation, etc.)
Outputs (e.g., GHG emissions, waste, etc.)
Transportation, Distribution, & Suppliers
Compensation and Wages
Training and Education
Management and Worker Communication
Job Flexibility and Corporate Culture
Occupational Health and Safety
Diversity and Inclusion
Civic Engagement and Giving
Suppliers, Distributors, and Product
Mission and Engagement
Benefit Corp Governance
Addressing a social and/or economic problem for customers
Our B Impact Report
The B Impact Report is a summary of our overall social and environmental performance as assessed by the BIA. Here is our most recent score on the assessment:
Objectives and Targets
Going forward, we have a goal of increasing our BIA score by at least 10% every time we recertify as a B Corporation. In addition, we have identified the following targets to help us continue to improve our social and environmental performance:
Offsetting 100% of carbon emissions by 2020
Measuring our Scope 1, Scope 2, and Scope 3 carbon emissions across our operations by 2020
Increasing energy efficiency across our organization by 10% by 2020
Increasing the amount of energy we consume from renewable sources by 50% by 2020
Diverting 80% of waste from landfill by 2020
Adding social / environmental goals into all employee performance evaluations
Integrating social / environmental mission-related responsibilities into all job descriptions
Hiring more women, people of color, individuals residing in low-income areas, and other chronically underemployed populations (e.g., individuals who are formerly incarcerated or formerly homeless)
Increasing the amount of women, people of color, or other traditionally underrepresented populations in management
Working with more suppliers who are:
Majority owned by women or individuals from underrepresented populations;
Located in low-income communities, or
Creating employment opportunities for chronically underemployed populations
10Power Founder / CEO Sandra Kwak joins group of 36 global transformational leaders bringing innovations to the social good sector
New York – June 8, 2017 – Echoing Green announced the winners of its highly competitive annual Fellowship awards. Echoing Green is a global organization that spots social entrepreneurs with the greatest potential and invests deeply in their success. The organization accelerates tomorrow’s transformational leaders today. With the help of this award, which comes with seed-funding, Sandra Kwak, Founder and CEO of 10Power will scale her work of providing renewable energy to the 1.2 billion people on the planet who do not have access to electricity.
Every year, Echoing Green provides funding and leadership development to a new class of Fellows. The organization embraces “smart risks” by providing seed funding of up to $90,000 for two years to support the continued growth of leaders and organizations with tremendous potential. These individuals are also welcomed into a lifelong global network of philanthropists, investors, and entrepreneurs who help one another experiment with bold, new ideas.
10Power provides project development and finance for commercial and industrial solar projects in global communities that lack access to reliable electricity. In their first market, Haiti, they have provided solar to water purification centers that are supplying clean drinking water to surrounding communities. Working with local installers, 10Power is building capacity for solar markets, with focus on gender empowerment and quantum development.
“It is an honor to join this diverse, passionate and driven group of intersectional, global change makers,” says Kwak.
Echoing Green is among the most selective fellowships for social entrepreneurs. This year, Echoing Green reviewed 2,879 applications from 164 countries.
Echoing Green’s unparalleled community of over 760 includes Michelle Obama, Van Jones and the innovators who launched Teach For America, City Year, One Acre Fund, SKS Microfinance, and more. The organization welcomes a new class of Fellows every year into its lifelong community of leaders.
“For the past 30 years Echoing Green has identified leaders with bold ideas that are important to the progress of the world,” says Echoing Green President Cheryl L. Dorsey. “In this year — Echoing Green’s 30th anniversary — we’re especially proud to continue to grow our community and welcome such a diverse group of innovators to our best-in-class network. We look forward to advancing their leadership journey.”
Support of Echoing Green’s 2017 Fellowship class is made possible through private contributions and the generous support of funders, including the Jerome L. Greene Foundation and the ZOOM Foundation.
About 10Power 10Power catalyzes solar markets in geographies that lack electricity today. Developing and financing commercial and industrial solar projects in Haiti, 10Power works with local installers, sources world-class technology, provides engineering resources, and generates economic opportunity by helping businesses save money and run on reliable, clean energy. To learn more, visit www.10pwr.com
About Echoing Green
Echoing Green identifies tomorrow’s transformational leaders today. Through its Fellowships and other innovative leadership initiatives, Echoing Green spots emerging leaders and invests deeply in their success to maximize their impact. Echoing Green has been ahead of the curve for 30 years, supporting visionaries around the world who are transforming economies, racial and gender equity, environmental sustainability, and more. Echoing Green accelerates talent that will change the world for the better. To learn more, visit EchoingGreen.org.
On November 7, 2016, 10Power CEO and Founder, Sandra Kwak delivered a talk entitled “Fourth World Nation Building” at TEDxSFState, a gathering of industry leaders, innovators, and makers from San Francisco discussing “Designing Your Future.”
Chris Haroun Chris Haroun is a venture capitalist, an award-winning business school professor, MBA graduate from Columbia University and former Goldman Sachs employee. He has raised/managed over $1bn in his career and is the CEO of Haroun Education Ventures. Haroun has work experience at hedge fund giant Citadel, consulting firm Accenture, and several firms that he has started. Chris is also the author of the #1 best-selling business course on Udemy and the book “101 Crucial Lessons They Don’t Teach You in Business School,” which in 2015 Forbes wrote is,”1 of 6 books that all entrepreneurs must read right now.” He also teaches at some of the top universities in the area, including here at San Francisco State University.
Stephanie Lampkin Stephanie Lampkin is the founder & CEO of Blendoor, a recruiting application that hides candidate name and photo to mitigate unconscious bias in hiring. With a 13 year career in tech spanning companies like Lockheed, Deloitte, Microsoft, and TripAdvisor, she is all too familiar with the difficulties faced when one doesn’t look like the prototypical engineer. Through technology and data, her mission is to reduce bias and challenge the assumption that homogeneous environments are a meritocracy. Stephanie holds a BS in Management Science & Engineering from Stanford University and an MBA from MIT Sloan. Stephanie has been honored and featured in numerous publications including MIT Tech Review 35 under 35, Forbes, NPR, Tech Crunch, and Black Enterprise. Stephanie’s mission is to effectively demonstrate that investing in diversity yields positive returns socially, financially, and technologically.
Dale J. Stephens Dale J. Stephens left school at the age of twelve to become an unschooler. Today, he is a sought-after education expert appearing on major news networks including CNN, ABC, NPR, CBS, Fox, andTechCrunch. At 21,Dale leads UnCollege, the social movement changing the notion that college is the only path to success. His first book, Hacking Your Education, was published by Penguin on March 5, 2013. In May 2011 Stephens was selected out of hundreds of top changemakers around the world under the age of twenty as a Thiel Fellow.
Dan Werthimer Dan Werthimer was in the Homebrew Computer Club with Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak; everyone in the Homebrew Club became ultra-rich except Dan. Dan is currently chief scientist of SETI@home, Breakthrough Listen, and several SETI programs at the University of California, Berkeley. Werthimer also directs the Center for Astronomy Signal Processing and Electronics Research (CASPER), and is associate director of the Berkeley Wireless Research Center (BWRC). Werthimer was an associate professor in the engineering and physics departments of San Francisco State University and a visiting professor at Beijing Normal University, the University of St. Charles in Marseille, and Eotvos University in Budapest.
Sandra Kwak Sandra Kwak is CEO and Founder of social business 10Power, which is providing renewable energy internationally to communities that lack access to electricity. Previously she worked with AutoGrid creating energy saving apps for utilities using smart meter Big Data, scaling the company through $14M in financing from prototype to a global brand. Sandra also Co-Founded and served as President and COO of energy efficiency company Powerzoa and at Pacific Gas and Electric Utility implementing the ClimateSmart program, which offsets emissions associated with electricity generation. She has a Sustainable MBA from Presidio Graduate School, has taught at SFSU and guest lectures at CCA and Stanford.
Chris Chan Chris Chan is a hacker at Yahoo. He is best known for driving innovation through the company’s hackathon competitions, of which he holds the record for the most wins. He also sits on the Yahoo For Good council, where he helps develop technology for good as well as promoting STEM to students from underserved communities. Chris holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Victoria, Canada with a focus in software engineering and open source software.
Stacy McKenzie Stacy McKenzie is a filmmaker hailing from San Francisco, California. With a craving for collecting moments and an addiction to telling stories, Stacy constantly pushes to find and make the most interesting and enveloping work possible. She began with an Undergraduate degree in Art Photography from San Francisco State University. In the past decade and a half, she has evolved into a very diverse filmmaker and video producer. She is currently the Director of Lucid Studios, creating experiential videos and immersive short films in 3D Virtual Reality.
What is TEDx?
In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TED has created a program called TEDx. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. Our event is called TEDxSFState, where x = independently organized TED event. At our TEDxSFState event, TEDTalks video and live speakers will combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events, including ours, are self-organized.
TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California 25 years ago, TED has grown to support those world-changing ideas with multiple initiatives. The annual TED Conference invites the world’s leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes. Their talks are then made available, free, at TED.com. TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Al Gore, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Isabel Allende and former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The annual TED Conference takes place each spring in Long Beach, California, along with the TEDActive simulcast in Palm Springs; the annual TEDGlobal conference is held each summer in Edinburgh, Scotland.
TED’s media initiatives include TED.com, where new TEDTalks are posted daily, the recently launched TED-Ed platform for students and educators, the Open Translation Project, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as the ability for any TEDTalk to be translated by volunteers worldwide, and TEDBooks, short e-books by speakers that elaborate on a single idea originally presented on TED’s stage. TED has established the annual TED Prize, where exceptional individuals with a wish to change the world are given the opportunity to put their wishes into action; TEDx, which offers individuals or groups a way to host local, self-organized events around the world, and the TED Fellows program, helping world-changing innovators from around the globe to become part of the TED community and, with its help, amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities. Follow TED on Twitter or on Facebook.
For more information about the event, please visit: https://tedxsfstate.com/
Update from 10Power: our solar assets in Haiti are intact and continue to generate clean energy. In the wake of the destruction created by Hurricane Matthew, we take inspiration from community mobilization and the resilience of the Haitian people. As a values based business providing access to solar, 10Power stands in support of Community Based Organizations. We highlight below some that are doing particularly good work.
The devastation wreaked by Hurricane Matthew in the departments of Sud, Grand’Anse, Nippes is estimated at over 1,000 dead, and 2.1 million affected. The latest OCHA figures state 1.4 million are in vulnerable situations in need of humanitarian aid and no less than 175,509 have been displaced. Rippling ramifications include a spike in cholera, higher prevalence of Zika and Malaria due to standing water, and the systemic humanitarian impacts of ecosystem destruction: staple crops destroyed, livestock killed, trees uprooted.
“Ernst Mathurin, director of GRAMIR, a Haitian NGO with over three decades of experience in the Grand Anse, recounted with horror the massive tree loss all across the region. Mathurin made a visit to Anse-à-Veau, to the west of Abricots. ‘There isn’t a plantain or a breadfruit tree left.’” 
Over 90% of crops have been destroyed, according to a preliminary assessment by the World Food Program. Goats, pigs and cows were killed in the storm. Livestock is an investment like a savings account, used to pay tuition, cover medical care or for funerals. Other livelihood means, including fishing boats and nets, were also annihilated. 
Immediate needs in the area are medical supplies, potable water and food. Second wave needs will be shelter and electricity. With relief efforts, is important to consider the long-term needs of the community, collaborate with local actors are and create positive feedback loops that will continue to provide benefit to Haiti.
As reported in the Financial Times, Maarten Boute, Chairman of Digicel, Haiti’s main cell phone provider, advised relief efforts on how to avoid the pitfalls experienced after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. “How to help Haiti: source relief aid locally, buy our exports abroad, visit our beaches, invest in Haiti and its people,” he tweeted. 
Sourcing locally from the affected regions rebuilds economic stability. Cash aid directly to affected communities or local organizations is more effective than food or donation aid since roads have been cleared, the economy can begin circulating again.
Konbits – The Power of Community
Konbit is a Haitian Creole word for cooperative communal projects, whereby able-bodied folk gather to help each other.
Louino ‘Robi’ Robillard, the founder of Cite Soleil Peace Prize provides apowerful first person account of people traveling from the slums of Port Au Prince to the South to work side-by-side in solidarity with the most impacted communities, even though they are facing hardship in their own neighborhoods, which are located at sea level and experienced flooding. 
Supporting grassroots Konbit efforts ensures that resources are deployed effectively and efficiently, within the regional context, and gives locals the opportunity to re-invest in self-perpetuating, regenerative models, as opposed to one-time aid. There are few international organizations that have deep roots in the south of Haiti, those that are effectively navigating the remote terrain are co-operating with local leaders such as school directors, churches and farming cooperatives.
Rebuilding for Resilience Provides Protection from Climate Instability
As communities rebuild, there is an opportunity to pave permeable roads, which reduce flooding and replenish the water table; build stronger, green buildings; generate renewable energy, providing access to those who previously had none; distribute clean water; create closed-loop sanitation / compost systems; propagate sustainable agriculture; and create more stable income generation opportunities.
Investing in sustainable infrastructure creates resiliency to withstand storm systems and generates value.
Haiti has not experienced a category 4 storm since 1964, but with climate change, as melting sea ice merges with warmer waters, superstorms are predicted to increase in frequency and severity. According to NOAA, in reference to superstorm Sandy,“Climate-change related increases in sea level have nearly doubled today’s annual probability of a Sandy-level flood recurrence as compared to 1950.”  More intense storm systems in the future underscores the urgency to rebuild resilient systems today.
10Power strives to enable long-term change by supporting local organizations and businesses, and those international organizations that work closely with Haitians, that engage stakeholders, and procure and invest locally. In addition to our work developing and financing commercial and industrial solar projects, in August 2016 the 10Power team collaborated with Hope for Haiti (see below) and DigitalKap in the village of Morency in the Sud department. Through community outreach, we conducted solar education, market research, and conducted a feasibility study to support deployment of residential solar by a local provider.
At a town hall meeting the community ranked their top concerns:
Post-Matthew, while the short-term priorities of areas hit by the hurricane are weighted towards food, medicine and shelter, relief efforts should be building towards a long-term sustainable future, driven by the priorities of the community.
How to Contribute
The Haiti Advocacy Working Group has compiled a list of Best Practicesfor Hurricane Matthew Relief Aid. 
Organizations working in the affected areas that 10Power knows well
Haiti Communitere, established after the earthquake in 2010, is channeling resources through their community center, bringing local and international players together to provide logistical support and food for community clean-up and rebuilding initiatives.
Earthspark International / Enèji Pwòp has been operating a solar microgrid in Les Cayes, one of the cities directly in the path of the storm. More than 66% of the population in Haiti does not have electricity.
SOIL provides sanitation as a service. The local composting toilet organization is based in Port Au Prince but 100% of funds will go to delivery of emergency supplies to Jeremie by convoy.
Hope for Haiti has been active in the Les Cayes area for 25 years supporting education, nutrition and healthcare, clean water, infrastructure and economy.
J/P HRO Sean Penn’s organization in Haiti, well respected by locals, is mobilizing an emergency response team to work with partner organizations to respond to the needs of the hardest hit area.
Rebuild Globally is nonprofit that provides business development, education and job training to fight poverty in Haiti.
Singing Roostersupports Haiti’s small producers and reforest Haiti with income-providing crops, selling Haitian coffee, art, chocolate into international markets and returning 100% of proceeds to farmer and artist communities. Singing Rooster is raising funds for a partner cooperative in the south to rebuild their nursery.
Fonkoze offers micro-finance throughout Haiti and are fundraising to launch a response to cholera; rebuild branch offices; provide support to small businesses; address immediate needs of the ultrapoor; and enable borrowers to get back on their feet.
Sakala provides a safe space where youth come together to grow, learn, and play in the heart of Haiti’s largest underdeveloped area, Cite Soleil. They have been co-ordinating volunteers from Cite Soleil to do Konbits in the South.
Haitian Led Community Organizations and Networks
Paradis des Indiens is based in Abricots, an area hit hard by the hurricane, and is very well known for its high-quality community and educational work.
Edem Foundation is based on the beautiful island of Ile-A-Vache which suffered significantly in the storm, they are working with the local authorities to bring food, medical supplies and clean water.
Rebuild Petit Goâve. The Mayor of Petit Goave has partnered with the 1804 Institute to collect donations for the coastal commune of 12,000 people.
Haitian Health Foundation provides health, education and community development services to more than 100 impoverished mountain villages in and around Jérémie—improving the health and well-being of almost 250,000 residents.
The Association des Maires de la Grand’Anse (AMAGA) is a network of Mayors in the region. They do not currently have a donation portal.
Medical Organizations Conducting Hurricane Matthew Relief Work
St Boniface Haiti Organization, established in 1983, runs a hospital and maternal health center in Fond-des-Blancs in Southern Haiti. They are a well respected organization in the area.
Heartline Ministries is a midwife organization out of Port Au Prince that has sent a team to the south and is partnering with grassroots organizations in the southern provinces of Sud and Grand’Anse, Christian Veterinary Mission and Mission Aviation Fellowship, to launch an emergency relief and recovery program.
Project Medishare, established in 1994, runs community-based and Haitian led programs to share knowledge and resources to improve health infrastructure and strengthen the skills of medical professionals.
NOVA is providing medical care, emergency shelter and food at their clinic in Cavaillon, near Les Cayes.
International Organizations who support / fund local Haitian community organizations involved in relief
Grassroots International builds local capacity for sustainable livelihoods and resilience to climate change for the long-haul working closely with partners and allies – such as the National Peasant Movement of Papaye (MPNKP), Tet Kole, the Regional Coordination of Organizations of the Southeast, and the Haitian Platform to Advocate for Alternative Development (PAPDA).
Fondation Aquin Solidarite (FAS) is a non-profit organization, founded in 2005, to provide educational, cultural, sports and economic support and mentoring to the city and the people of Aquin, located 117kms southwest of Port-au-Prince.
Western Union is offering toll free transfers to Haiti from United States, Canada , France, Chile, Brazil and the Caribbean at participating outlets, on their website and on mobile Western Union, where available.
Thank you to the compassionate humans who are seeking to contribute consciously.
In this episode of Next Economy Now, Erin Axelrod, a Partner at LIFT Economy, interviews Sandra Kwak, Founder and CEO of 10Power, a woman-owned company that finances renewable energy in developing communities.
Sandra and Erin discuss the opportunities of bringing solar to countries like Haiti – where the most recent Hurricane Matthew has caused an extraordinary amount of devastation and destruction and yet where there is so much potential to build a regenerative economy leveraging cutting edge renewable energy technology.
As you’ll hear, Sandra is enthusiastic about the promise of solar, especially for the potential it offers to communities who are currently lacking access to electricity. For these countries, it offers a way to modernize in a more efficient, cost-effective, and sustainable manner than what fossil fuels have offered since the dawn of the industrial revolution.
In this interview, Erin and Sandra discuss a number of topics, including:
How “third-party financing” spurred the adoption of solar in the US, and how 10Power is leveraging that to springboard adoption of solar in Haiti.
Why solar is the backbone of a local, living economy
The importance of building ownership. The 10Power model fosters local ownership of the companies and all installations are done via a pay-to-own model.
Why fossil fuels are “not a good investment anymore.”
The importance of the divestment movement – the largest movement to divest from fossil fuels in financial history.
Gender equality as a key element that is driving 10Power’s business model
To listen to this podcast, please click the image at the top of the article.
More electricity is coming to the rural Global South, bit by bit, as renewable projects light up remote villages and hospitals, individual huts and large water treatment plants. There are 1.2 billion people estimated not long ago to live without electricity.
But electrification isn’t arriving in these rural swatch of the globe the way it did in the richer countries of the north. That playbook was thrown out, for the most part.
Instead, just as telephony spread to the far reaches of the globe because of adoption of untethered cell phones, electricity is arriving in remote areas often in the form of standalone micro-grids of solar or wind generating devices connected to inverters and storage.
Sometimes, it’s a single solar panel boxed with an inverter and strapped on the rooftop of a home, providing light to that home and enough power to charge a cell phone.
For one: Renewable energy projects are generally cheaper than building a fossil fuel burning utility and stringing transmission lines across vast deserts and grasslands.
Two: Smart meters and Internet of Things technologies make it easy to connect electricity users with their power usage and offer payment options such as pay-as-you-go. The result is pricing that makes electricity more obtainable.
Below are key lessons from energy entrepreneurs.
Many more lessons about what off-grid countries can teach the developed world will be discussed at VERGE 16 this week in Santa Clara, California.
Engage and use local talent
When entrepreneur Sandra Kwak, founder of 10Power, set about to bring electricity and clean water to communities in Haiti, she started with due diligence of the market and visited lots of electrification projects.
Sadly she visited too many projects that sounded great on paper but that had stopped functioning because of a broken part or needed maintenance, with nobody local given the tools or training to do the repairs.
“There is a significant local skill base in Haiti and the projects that have been successful are the ones that utilized Haitian suppliers, Haitian installers and Haitian financers,” she said in an interview with GreenBiz.
10Power has completed two renewable power electricity projects on water sanitation plants that have brought not only clean water and electricity to thousands of residents but predictable sustained financial returns that allow 10Power to reinvest in new projects.
Her advice: When people on the ground have a stake in the success of a program it will keep going, with maintenance, engineering, customer engagement and delivery.
Use IoT and cloud-based data and communications connectivity
Andy Bogdan Bindea, founder of Sigora Solar and its Sigora Haiti subsidiary, has built a micro utility in Haiti.
He said he is following the old fashion utility business model except for two very important differences: First, he uses only clean solar energy. Next, he deployed smart grid, cloud-based Internet of Things connectivity to give customers exact information about their usage and allow the grid to have a precise demand response system of delivering only as much electricity as needed in a given area or by a given customer.
“Everybody has the belief that utility are big, slow, environmentally dirty, 100 years behind the time curve, basically 800-pound guerillas. Basically that is true. However, it doesn’t have to be that way,” he told GreenBiz.
“We’ve taken a very traditional business model of a private utility company — you create kilowatt hours of electricity and sell them — a model that worked for a century but we added modifications: We wanted all our energy to be generated from renewables and all our meters to be smart meters. They are prepaid, demand controllable that can move (energy load) up and down by community, customer or customer type.”
Negotiating to use the abandoned transmission lines from a formerly municipal-run electric system in Mole St. Nicolas, Sigora built a small utility that currently has 750 paying customers but can scale up. Bindea figures it is serving about 3,750 people. Over the next 12 months, it will also be building 2.2 MWp of wind and 1.2 MWp of solar in a project expected to serve 136,000 customers.
Two towns in the Mole St. Nicolas area have microgrids. “Each can function independently but we are interconnecting all of these towns with low-cost, effectively deployed distribution lines. That increases reliability and allows us to collocate all our generation infrastructure and reduce the price of our renewable power by 30 percent,” he claimed. Sigora Haiti’s new wind and solar project will reach through six townships.
The prepaid service allowed by smart meter connectivity with individual customers has provided an incentive for them to not miss payments: You stop paying, you stop getting power.
Neighbors are the best marketers
Greenlight Planet builds and sells small solar powered electric systems that light up a house and charge a phone. Its SunKing products have been sold to 6 million households in 54 countries, mostly in Africa and Asia. Greenlight Planet estimates it has brought power to 20 million people that had been living without electricity.
The keys to its success?
A durable, unfailing product that gets high ratings among users.
Pay as you go, financing that makes electricity as cheap as 15 cents a day.
Neighbor to neighbor marketing.
“We started with the idea that the poorest peope in the world make the shrewdest financial decisions,” said Thakkar. And he believes they have proved their point.
“Our first customer was an old gentleman in a small village. Everyone in the village came out to listen to our presentation. He asked two or three questions and then went back in his hut and came out with 1,000 rupees, which was the equivalent of about $20. He said, ‘Great, give it to me,'” he recalled of the 2008 start of the company.
From that one man understanding the value of electricity — the value of having light at night so his kids can study, or to be able to charge up a cell phone and stay connected to the world including to nearby city markets for your crops and of being able to have a small TV or radio for entertainment and news — the village was convinced.
“People are wiling to spend a month of income up front because they understood,” Thakkar said. “For quality of life, electricity is pretty fantastic,” and people will pay for that.
Greenlight Planet has changed its model as it moved into poorer countries. In Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Senegal it offers pay as you go, “you pay something each day,” for electricity. “If you miss a payment, the lights go off, but you can pick it back up again” by paying. “We have found this has incredible impact on affordability for customers and adoption rates.”
Its product never fails — it gets top rating on Amazon by all its reviewers. But the biggest key to its sales? Local sales people.
“We sell through a network of village agents. We recruit someone from the village who becomes the first user or customer and then the go door to door and explain the benefits of a product and sell it to their neighbor,” Thakkar said.
“It is a powerful thing. When your neighbor says I’ve been using this lamp and it works so well my kids study by it and we don’t have smoke in our house anymore and I can change my phone by it, it give people permission to take that jump too.”
Is it a lesson for the already developed world in how to grow renewable use?
“I come back to my parents’ home in a suburb in New Jersey and someone there decided they’d put solar on their roof. The idea of spending $30,000 on solar equipment is scary until a neighbor does it. Now in the neighborhood — on the blocks around the house I grew up in — one in every five houses has solar panels.”
September 16-17, Port Au Prince, Haiti – For the first time in Haiti, the AmCham Haiti Energy Committee has personally invited key government officials, law and decision makers from every aspect of the energy sector value chain: production, importation, distribution and mining. In addition to regulators and the public, private sector participants will represent:
• Fuel Importers
• Electrical Installation Suppliers
• Electrical Appliances suppliers
• Energy Production Products
• Energy Producers/Retailers
• Energy Projects Contractors
• Renewable and Alternative Energies
Energy is a must for everyone. This conference will be held to inform stakeholders of Haiti’s current situation, future potential and provide informative sessions on how individuals can save on consumption and help improve Haiti’s energy future.
Sandra Kwak, CEO and Founder of 10Power will present Renewable Energy Tax and Incentive Opportunities on Saturday, September 17th at 1:00pm, providing an overview of successful energy policies in the Caribbean and US, outlining possibilities for the growth of the solar industry in Haiti.
How are developing countries creating clean energy infrastructure best practices that can be brought back to developed economies? This panel will share ways they are pioneering energy technology and financial innovations from the developing world and translate these learnings to ‘modern’ economies.
David Crane – Senior Operating Executive @ Pegasus Capital Advisors (and former CEO @ NRG). Note that David will be in a keynote discussion the same morning, so he can tease this session from the main stage if relevant.
Justin Guay – Program Officer, Climate @ David and Lucile Packard Foundation
Sandra Kwak – Founder and CEO @ 10Power
Andy Bogdan Bindea – Founder and President @ Sigora Solar
Moderator: Susan Gladwin – President of Gladwin Consulting – will lead the discussion among all panelists and provide context as necessary.
VERGE is a global event series focusing on the technologies and systems that accelerate sustainability solutions across sectors in a climate-constrained world. VERGE events have been held in Shanghai, London, Boston, Honolulu, London, New York, Paris, San Francisco, São Paulo and Washington, D.C. The flagship event is held each fall in Silicon Valley, the world’s innovation hub.