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(Updated on Feb 10)/ EnergyLend: Empower Social Lending for Renewable Energy

Our Idea is to leverage existent (international) relationships in P2P lending for renewable energy. On the EnergyLend platform, we connect RE Social Enterprises/NGOs, RE Providers, and Individuals who want to have RE, to lenders around the world. On EnergyLend the platform, organizations can start an energy project for themselves and also RECOMMEND potential renewable energy users to EnergyLend. The same goes for Renewable Energy Providers and Individuals: RE providers can start a lending project for themselves, or recommend their potential clients to EnergyLend. We EMBRACE and EMPOWER relationships built around renewable energy.

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User Experience Map 

EnergyLend encourages everyone to bring and build trust-worthy relationships around Renewable Energy on the platform.   

End user: any individual/community/enterprise/organization that is passionate about spreading RE.  People who have international experience, such as international volunteers/workers/students/social workers/travellers who have passion for social good will be the first group of users on this platform.  


The basic UX map that works for an Endorser/Recommender is:

1. Fill out your profile and tell EnergyLend how you know the community/organization/individual you are endorsing.  
2. Tell us more about the endorsee.
3. Invite the endorsee to Energy.  You are so encouraged to help the endorsee to go through the process below, by giving them information about RE, helping them to use EnergyLend platform, catching up with them on their project, etc. 
4. Keep in touch with EnergyLend and share with us your story and work!

The UX map for an Energy Project that works for an Individual/Organizational Applicant is:

Part I

1. Submit Application with Your Community Energy Story and Energy Project Proposal. 
2. Provide Necessary Documents and References/Endorsement. 
3. Give us or let us help you find a Renewable Energy Provider. 
4. Wait for Your Application to be Reviewed and Approved.  

If your project gets approved, your energy project proposal will be displayed on EnergyLend for lenders to choose and lend to, and you will get to:

Part II (Exciting!)

1. Connect with Lenders, Answer Lenders’ Questions, and Exchange Contacts with them or just Chat with them on EnergyLend. 
2. After you get all the loans you need, start your project and report it on your project profile in a timely manner, so that your lenders know what is going on – this is part of your responsibility when you get
3. Besides updating the exciting process of your project, you also need to ask Your RE provider to check back in to EnergyLend regularly. 
4. When your project is done, you start to harvest energy and productivity.  Would be nice if you can share that to EnergyLend.  And yes, time to pay back bit by bit, but pay all back.

In these maps, we emphasize on telling Your Energy Story - what is your day like without and with enough electricity?  Story telling and profile writing should be surrounding Energy and Renewable Energy.  

We also will have an Online Community Group feature: a community leader can come to the website, and start building her or his Community Group.  It is like a FB Group but we will twist that for the use of RE acceleration.  


Our Innovation with P2P Lending

a. We work with pre-existent relationships, resources and communities.
According to the feedbacks we got, there have been many organizations doing this.  There are plenty of resources in every sector: all we need to do is to bring them together, or just to present them on the platform.  What we focus on is a personal story and profile that gives a face to RE charity.   This gives transparency and builds trust, and transforms the traditional way social good is presented.  
We are exploring many different kinds of partnerships – with more banks taking social responsibility and stepping into social finance, it will be increasingly easy to work with them to do P2P lending.  Micro-finance insitutions have always been around
b. We prefer doable, innovative Renewable Energy Entrepreneurs and Technologies and want to dig them out!
In areas where RE energies are well developed, lending for solar panels will be nice.  In less developed areas, there are lots of innovations about renewable energy we can support.  For example, projects like SunSaluter and Energy Pop-Up can all use some capital to get started.  At the beginning stage, we may want to work with simple, easy and doable RE entrepreneurs and technologies especially.  
c. We incorporate technology and innovation into lending mechanism.
Inspired by Kiva Zip, we really think incorporating technology into P2P lending will save so much trouble.   Using mobile payment, smartphone apps and other new technologies that enable quick and cheap credit checks, P2P lending can be much easier.  Technology can bring Humanity into P2P Lending, such as socializing and real-time data between users.
d. We have a multiple-endorser system: More Trust!
We hope to engage all possible parties into the trust agreement.  EnergyLend is specifically designed for renewable energy acceleration, so we believe that renewable energy providers/mentors/volunteers will play important roles in this mutual, multi-lateral supervision and social underwriting. 


 Building Trust

Update about user research here:

We didnt get enough time to collect enough suvey results.  But with the 14 results we got from our intensive user research survey with good  questions, we had some basic ideas.   We have attached the PDF of the survey report to this post.  Feel free to read it and give us some comments!   Please see the right side bar for the User Survey Report file! 


And of course, TRUST MEANS A LOT! 

We have also asked around in our circles about this idea casually (around 30 people we have asked).  Most people say this is a great idea and they would love to lend if they can know for sure the money goes to the right place and will be paid back.   To improve trust, what we have right now is the multiple-endorsement system as you can read above in our special features.   We also believe that, socializing between lenders and borrowers, real-time information update over the project, will build the trust in a great way.  There is  a lot more to do.  

UPDATE: About real-time data, to see if a project is really done on the site, it is getting easier and easier.    If Google Street View is not updated often enough, then many other hardware/software companies are catching up on that.  For example, Planet Labs, a rising cube-satellite company can track a place every day and see the change.   What if the lender can access real-time data by satellite images and monitor real-time process on the project?  It is quite possible.  And it is happening.   Please check out this TED talk given by Planet Labs founder to see how it can work:

You can also find the video in the visual section of this idea! 


Feedbacks and Resources

We have taken this idea to a social good tech hackathon and an OpenIDEO workshop, and got lots of great feedbacks which shaped the idea greatly.  
OpenIDEO is an amazing platform where so many great people come to help this project.   We feel very motivated and grateful with the help. For example, Kevin shared with us his valuable, critical ideas about P2P lending.   Michael just told a simple story about how he decided to donate and that inspired this idea to think about relationship as a great way to lower the cost to build trust. Philip is introducing great resources out where Lincoln Memorial is located to us, and we are figuring out what questions to give Philip to pass over.  We also shared this with Kiva’s president Premal and he replied: “very cool.” Quite brief and we feel encouraged!  Melinda from OpenIDEO workshop said she would provide contacts of companies doing P2P RE finance off-line.

Some other feedbacks:

1. Renewable energy providers in some developing areas have difficulty providing quality product and service, so it may be hard to locate good RE providers in those areas.
This inspired us to think about supporting RE entrepreneurs there. 
2. What training do we need to give to different users/participators?
This inspired us to learn more from community developers and RE volunteers.
3. Post-installation: is it necessary to monitor energy use and follow up with maintenance with projects that need maintenance?  
This makes us rethink what kind of project and loan planning we want to do. 

We Look Forward to Hearing From You

There is established research on P2P lending, but we love fresh user research with flesh.  Here is the link to our Lender Research Form and take it please:

Renewable Energy - Lender Survey 

 It will help us know how we can build TRUST from lenders.  We appreciate your partipation! 

Our Future Plan

1. We will reach out to resources we have got and look for a way to integrate with them for better RE financing.  We will especially work on asking right questions to the resources and get great answers right now.   

2. We will keep making social finance simple:  finance should be what everyone is knowledgeable of and can make full use of. It does not belong to the wolves of Wall Street.  We hope to break down difficult things into simple bits, by working cross-disciplinarily and thinking from the user’s perspective. 

3. We are going to start from those who want to work with us, put up their projects, and send out the website link to our circles. 

About the Team

This project has a great mix of talents and hearts! 
Bettina Fliegel: Bettina is amazing and everyone agrees. Do you believe she is a newbie in RE? (She said so.)  An energetic New Yorker, Tina is a doctor on the daytime and a Social Good Zorro any other time.  Sharing her rich experience with social innovation in all fields and doing lots of connecting and quality control, Tina is our big brain consultant.    
Diana Fernandez: Diana lives in Europe but can stay up really late for our Skype chat.   She has a sweet voice and personality as well as a very analytic, sharp mind.   Diana works in Renewable Energy industry now, and before she worked long time in banking.  She has dazzling professional knowledge, experience and connection in both Finance and RE, and she is always there with the team.   
Glen Chan: Glen is a designer-turned IT engineer, a Bay Area local.  Artistic, thoughtful, humorous, humble and dedicated to our project, Glen uses his magic hand and brain to turn our ideas into beautiful design.  Glen has a wonderful instagram which unfortunately is open to only who he likes.
Shuting Zeng:  as a Chinese woman, Shuting certainly must be good with math, which may help with the financial engineering in this project. Although she may not work as hard as most Chinese do (does she?), Shuting tries to work smart with design thinking, upbeat spirit, and project management.
We don’t have a team pet/mascot yet but Glen may draw one for us soon. And we always love getting OpenIDEO’s comments and notification emails (never stressed?).  We suggest that OpenIDEO allow emoticon type-in. 

And, we will keep updating since ideas pop up any time.  Check back and help us improve any time! 


What community does this idea benefit and who are the main players?

Where to Pilot? The long-term goal of EnergyLend is to connect lenders and borrowers internationally, but we feel it is probably easier to pilot the project in an area where RE and RE communities are mature. So far, we are still reaching out to different organizations and professionals to seek the best place to start. With the limited time, we are not sure if we will decide on one before the refinement deadline! But we will follow up and make sure we start at the right place! We believe the pilot place will be determined by where the all sectors are most mature and ready for a re-organization of their resources and a display to the lenders.

How does your idea specifically help your community rapidly transition to renewables?

• It connects the local to the global. • It has a focus on communal renewable energy facilitation and entrepreneurship. • It will benefit communities in every corner of the world, as long as they have good infrastructure of mobile/online payment.

What skills, input or guidance are you keen to connect with from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?

Any relevant idea is welcome. Do you know people doing this already? Would you recommend some green financial products out there? Would you like to connect us to professionals you know that may help with this project? How do you think we can find our lenders and borrowers? Do you have any idea how to collaborate with traditional finance and to innovate the present micro-finance?

Please indicate which type of energy is most relevant to this post:

  • A combination of various types of renewable energy

This idea emerged from:

  • A Group Brainstorm
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The Art of the Managed Transition: Designing and Implementing a Low Risk/High Value Utility Business Transformation


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Congratulations! Really amazing work.

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