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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.

Photo of Shuting Zeng
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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.  

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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.  

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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. 

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 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! 
 

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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. 
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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! 
 
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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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Attachments (2)

BTS_WhitePaper.pdf

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

98 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Brad Klafehn
Team

A variation on the idea of zero-interest donations would be to develop the structure as a cooperative. However much funding you put into the cooperative is the proportion you get back as a return based on the coop's performance. Once the coop started generating a positive cash flow, the membership (one vote per donor, not per dollar) would decide what proportion of the funds to keep internally versus how much to return to the members. The dividends would be yours to keep, or to reinvest back into coop, generating another tax deduction (in the US) and increasing your share as a donor. This model may appeal to people who would like the possibility of seeing some financial return from their donations, but who are also supportive of the nonprofit, social benefit nature of the coop.

Photo of Joey Chy
Team

Congratulations! Really amazing work.

Photo of luisa covaria
Team

Congrats!

Photo of Shuting Zeng
Team

Thank you Luisa and OpenIDEO for providing a great platform for people to come together and design social good :)

Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

Yes! and what a resource for learning!

Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

Hi all!
I reached out to Jake via a comment on his IDEA, "SunSaluter" - to tap into his experience working on the ground in India and elsewhere to see what we could learn.
1) About forming partnerships, to find out how he approaches and finds out about possible partners.
2) Do the NGOs that SunSaluter partners with ever help facilitate purchase of RE for locals, or are they implementing entire projects themselves? (Could EnergyLend work with them as Trustees? - for example)
2) To hear about how folk living in remote communities learn about RE - what and who are their resources? Are there RE companies competing for business within rural communities and if so how do folk make choices - what info do they have?
3) What he might know about P2P Lending already in these communities.
4) To inquire as to whether something like SunSaluter would be an appropriate P2P lending program opportunity.

Jake was incredibly generous with his response which I copied and pasted here/below so you can all learn from his experiences and insights.
Check out the links to the pro bono consulting projects as well Shuting!

An important learning for me was that folk in remote areas often know nothing about Solar Products. The only way they find out is basically by a "door to door" sales approach. Due to lack of knowledge and resources it takes time to work with people to get them on board. Folk may not find their way to an App - it will need to be introduced to them. Also from Jake's experience there is not much competition in distinct areas. (all below)


https://openideo.com/challenge/renewable-energy/ideas/a-low-cost-passive-solar-panel-rotator-that-creates-clean-drinking-water
FROM JAKE:
Happy to help and thanks for the questions!

Our partnerships outside of India have been fairly opportunistic - mostly from people contacting us or otherwise encountering them by chance. We are fortunate to have received some nice media coverage in the last few years which has helped us attract partners. Within India, we have been much more proactive in contacting partners and getting them on board. It requires lots of calls and emails, but the off-grid solar community is still pretty small and collaborative, so our friends in the space have been very helpful in connecting us. Likewise I'll be happy to help in any way if I can : )

In fact the organizations we work with always facilitate the RE projects. SunSaluter has a very small team and a technology which enhances what our partners do, so we rely on them for almost all of the implementation and facilitation. Each organization understands its customers/beneficiaries better than we do, so we want to let them take the lead.

I think Shuting's idea is great. It reminds me of SunFunder, but it sounds like it allows individuals to post their RE projects rather than having to be part of larger campaigns (so like Kiva for RE). That makes a lot of sense - there are lots of crowdfunding/microlending sites that have proven the concept, and it seems like a good idea to create one that focus on RE. In this way you could establish yourselves as experts on the subject and provide the necessary due diligence that general sites might not have. I believe that is what you would have to do and where you can really add value - to vet the projects and make sure they are feasible/lendable. Your website would be the portal for connecting borrowers and lenders and would give the lenders the assurance they need to make the loan. Definitely I think the SunSaluter could be featured on the site if there are people who want it to be part of their project : )

You might be interested in this opportunity for pro-bono consulting to get your idea started (http://www.enea-access.com/call-for-projects/), or https://www.chicagoideas.com/special_programs/bhsi or some opportunities hosted by USAID.

I think local folks usually choose RE products when they are brought to them (i.e. by a grassroots NGO or a rural sales caravan). Often times people don't know anything about these products, so it requires the organizations to reach out to them and convince them that their products are worthwhile and trustworthy. A lot of people are very hesitant to invest their precious money in solar without knowing how it works. These people usually live in such underserved regions that they have very little choice, so the products they choose are based entirely on which companies have reached out to them. Therefore regarding your site, you might have trouble getting people to come to you, so in order to get them on your site I think you would need to partner with local organizations to enlist them. I believe this is how Kiva does it, via MFIs.

Hope that all helps, do let me know if you have any more questions, and good luck!

Jake

THANKS JAKE!!!

Photo of Shuting Zeng
Team

Awesome Tina! Thanks for posting here!

Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

Hi ShuTing! Congratulations on your winning Idea!
Go team!

Photo of Shuting Zeng
Team

Hey Tina again this is not my winning idea! it is everyone's! Many people helped in different ways, and OpenIDEO makes it possible for people to come see it and build it together!

You are part of the team too so why not send some congrats to yourself! And you have been so motivative and helpful! I enjoyed working with you a lot too! Ok let's keep the rest of sweet words over email...LOL.

Photo of Philip Vang
Team

Hi Shuting,

I think this is a really neat idea and could be prototyped quite quickly if the right partners were involved and willing. Reading the comments, I think the trust issue for lenders is the number one question that would need to be answered, but at the same time we have a lot of great examples to learn from in terms of micro lending, KIVA, Grameen, etc...

One possible prototype that could be run quickly is coordinate some type of focus group with potential lenders or individuals to get a sense of why they would or wouldn't be a lender. There are some microlending folks in the DC area that I might be able to leverage for feedback and learnings. I'll shoot you an email with further details.

-Philip

Photo of Philip Vang
Team

Just a quick follow up question, when you talk about the lenders, what's your vision of who that would be? Individuals, Institutions, Governments?

Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

Hi Phillip.
The lenders are meant to be individuals or a group/community of friends. Did you connect with Shuting? He email is below in one of the comments. We have been communicating behind the scenes on some aspects of the project.

Would be great to get feedback from your microlending contacts!
Please post any insights or ideas you have for Shuting's P2P idea!

Diana is going to post a survey on the site- Please check back tomorrow so you can participate! Thanks!
Bettina

Photo of Philip Vang
Team

Thanks for the response on the lender question. I'll definitely checkout the survey tomorrow. That's a really quick and easy way to get feedback. Such a good idea. I connected with my friend from the UN Foundation, and he works on microlending/investing in clean cook stoves. I'll be meeting with him on Monday and it should be a good opportunity to bounce some ideas off him and see what types of partnerships could be possible, with them or with someone in their network.

Shuting, Bettina, Diana?Please let me know if there are any questions you think would be useful to ask when I meet with him.

Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

Thank you Phillip! That is so kind and awesome of you. I will send them an email and we can think about questions. Great opportunity to get feedback and learn new things from someone in the field!
Have a great night!

Photo of Philip Vang
Team

Hi All,

I was able to speak with my my friend Kevin at the UN Foundation yesterday and I thought it was pretty insightful. When looking at this EnergyLend platform, I would look to current examples like the UN Foundation and Acumen Fund. They are the controllers of the funding, and entrepreneurs/individuals for funding would are required to submit an application with details about their business plan and proof of concept. That process in itself is very thorough and solid, so that would be a good place to start in terms of creating a trusted relationship between lender and lendee.

For EnergyLend it would be about creating a solid upfront and thorough process of receiving and verifying potential lendees. This would include metrics about who their impacting, what RE is needed, costs, etc.... This would allow for a story to be told, but also a strong way for EnergyLend to create a strong vetting process upfront to ensure trusted relationships.

Overall, one way to look at EnergyLend is that of a Fund that has gathered resources from people looking to invest in impact but also have an ROI. Potential Lendees could apply for funding of RE in their communities by applying to become a Lendee of EnergyLend. This is pretty high level at this standpoint, but I think serves as a good starting point. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

Photo of Diana Vieira Fernandes
Team

Thanks Philip (for all the support) :)

There was this really cool Project with UN and a Portuguese utilities Company (http://www.edp.pt/backup/kakuma/kakuma/kakuma.html), that I also posted on Research Phase. I know the people here (in Lisbon), that were there (as EDP Foundation).

They were trying to expand the project, but I believe that funding was the issue (have to confirm that one).

I listened to their presentation a lot of times and for me the highlight, was not the access to energy, were the indirect results (as more kids going further on their studies, because could study at night, on agriculture, for auto consumption, etc).

I know that setting up partnerships is a key point, still we (or the people not there, have to listen and be humble, namely in Europe, because sometimes they think they know better… ).

I love this talk because addresses that:

http://www.ted.com/talks/ernesto_sirolli_want_to_help_someone_shut_up_and_listen

On metrics, you are absolutely right. Any chance you know anyone at Rockefeller Foundation? Harvard also has a cool group on social impact Bonds or in the UK (http://www.socialfinance.org.uk/)

http://www.rockefellerfoundation.org/our-work/current-work/impact-investing

and they are also disinvesting of fossil fuel too

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/sep/22/rockefeller-heirs-divest-fossil-fuels-climate-change

It would be great if we could continue this conversation after (20 hours to finish the challenge…). I have the feeling that if we line up this we could try to do something great!

Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

Thanks Phillip! Thanks Diana!
Are you familiar with SunFunder? Please check out Jake's comment which I just copied and pasted into the comment at the top here. He mentions it and I checked it out briefly. What are your thoughts on that model?

Photo of Shuting Zeng
Team

Hello Philip and dear team! Great feedback here! I will check out Acumen and UN Fund and study them carefully. Diana I agree that humility is so important in the social innovation field! So is collaboration! Just checked out Jake's reply to your post too Tina and it is very nice of him to offer lots of insights!

Photo of Philip Vang
Team

I think the story telling aspect of this model is key, having a bio and specifics about the project allow people to become invested emotionally in the lending process. This is key, and should be a focal point of the lending model, which it already sounds like it is. Great way to create a bridge of trust.

Photo of Shuting Zeng
Team

Hello Philip, thanks so much for your continuous great feedback! Yes we think that giving human face to a financial project will really motivate people to think about and use finance differently for social good. One question though will be the cost of this story telling and how we can distinguish true tories to fake PR ones! Do you have any idea on this? Hope you are having a great day!

Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

That is a great point Shuting - about the fake PR. Something to seriously think about. I was wondering how the end users, borrowers, would interact if it were a web site and they have no computer access. How does Kiva do this?

Photo of Nathan Lucy
Team

Shuting, thanks again for helping shape the Motivations Interactive Guide into what it now is! I see how it could be complimentary to what your exciting working in microfinance here. As we move forward, we could explore ways in which the MIG might serve as a tool in your efforts to mobilize lenders. It would be great to have you as a tester. Let me know if you're interested in exploring this possibility.

https://openideo.com/challenge/renewable-energy/ideas/incentives-reference-guide

Photo of Shuting Zeng
Team

Hey hey Nathan for sure I know this great MIG project. Pity that I have limited time and will not be able to join you guys for the intense efforts later! For sure we would love to partner with MIG haha. I believe MIG will be so handy and desirable to many RE movements! Will check your idea out soon (hopefully) ! Good day!

Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

Loving the new visualisations and new name! Great collaborating, folks.

Photo of Shuting Zeng
Team

Hi Meena thanks so much! Glen makes neat post-it notes while my sketch is very rough LOL. Everyone on the team is a star! Very dedicated and resourceful.

Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

Hi Shuting. In your process above it says about the borrowers process that -
One will upload their project idea, their endorsements, and their RE provider's name/details. If the borrower does not have a RE provider P2P will help them get one. How do you propose to do that? Will P2P have a relationship with the "Energizers" idea on this platform which may help with this type of need?

Photo of Shuting Zeng
Team

Hello Bettina thanks for bringing this up here! This is what I originally thought about. But am thinking if that will make this project way too big. Maybe there have been social enterprises on the ground doing RE provider introduction and rating? Shall we look at that and seek partnership or take this one?

Photo of Joey Chy
Team

Looking for friendship? ...Lend!

Ok, ok, ok how about a network?

___

I need accolades to talk about at my next function...hmmm..."The Solar Farm by
Andrew Wagner"

___

Girl says to her accountant "I want the tax break I get this year to come from donating to renewable energy"

"Doable. There's this energy lending group..."

___

"I want to learn some of the in's and out's of Angel Investing...There's this dude I know that wants to start a Solar Farm. Seems like he knows what he's doing and he's a real good dude. I bet he could start the next Tom's."

___

I know crowdfunded loans specifically for RE projects sounds like a bank, but...hmmm, maybe that ok. I don't know.

Photo of Shuting Zeng
Team

Hello Joey, love the user scenarios! This again gives us great advice on how to incentivize lending for renewable energy. And in the cases you mentioned, I see that maybe sometimes people do not distinguish donating, lending and crowdfunding significantly as long as it is for charity. Yet in our research, they can mean very different things. Crowdfunding is more for business investment and for this reason, it is about getting equity and then harvesting future benefits. In the case of RE acceleration facing the public, we found it complicated to do that, since of the lack of regulations in this part still (companies can go bankrupt and disappear with all the funds they get, for example). P2P lending is more straightforward and in line with social good in my opinion.

Angel investing is a great idea too. We havent thought much about it. Because we right now are thinking about defining it as social good and social impact project, we look for a zero-interest lending model. But maybe for big amount of investment, increasing interest rates will encourage energy angels to invest. But I kind of feel that it is easier to go with one to start with - either zero interest for charity or angel investing for some benefits. Any insight in comparing these two models?! Thanks again for this great feedback and hope you are having a nice day!

Photo of Ellen Lee
Team

Here are two startups that you may find interesting:
* Mosaic, which offers peer-to-peer lending for U.S. homeowners to install solar technology (https://joinmosaic.com/)
* Powerhive, which develops technology to bring electricity to rural parts of the globe (http://www.powerhive.com/)

Photo of Shuting Zeng
Team

Dear Ellen thanks a lot for the links! They look very interesting and worth studying upon!

Photo of Philip Vang
Team

I think this is a really interesting company. Great business model to learn about and possibly apply to the EnergyLend.

Photo of Sam An
Team

1) Identify what are you target areas for renewable energy?
questions to consider: How do borrowers find out about energy lend?
2)Find energy providers, check credibility, set pricing and "best practices" for providers.
3) Are there enough mobile energy providers?
4) Is it a local lending institution or directly from lender?
5)Does energy lend want to install monitoring devices to monitor if it's working and/or collect and sell carbon products?
6)What training needs to happen for borrower?-maintenance, security,etc.
7)Maintenance: What if it breaks? Security of equipment?

Photo of Shuting Zeng
Team

Hello Sam, thanks for these questions. As you can see, our new idea is updated and almost all these questions are answered!

1) we identify users according to the network provided by our partners, such as RE social enterprises and volunteers.

2) Yes this will be great especially for the users who know little about how to choose RE providers. Yet after re-discussion we think this may be too big a project to start...maybe by working with RE providers we will know better how they work and then be able to recommend them to users.

3) We will start with areas with enough RE providers and then support RE entrepreneurs in those areas which dont have mature RE industry!

4) Great question! We prefer not to use local MFIs since it will increase the interest-rate of loans. With Paypal and socializing between lenders and users, I think direct transaction is more and more possible.

5)We don't know yet but at first we may want to support less complicated projects without too much post-production follow up needs!

6) We think volunteers/organizations can help us train their recommendees but right now there is not much detail with training yet. Look forward to your reply!

7) answered in No.5. already!

Photo of Joey Chy
Team

Your user interface will be key. The rhythm and flow of your app will determine how well it will resonate with its constituency. The better it flows, the easier it will be to focus on what's really important--the project.

And with a zero-interest environment, the appeal you lose in low/no gain will have to be made in strong integration.

Photo of Shuting Zeng
Team

Hello Joey nice to see you again! Yes yes agreed that user interface will be very important! During hacking we took lots of references from Kiva Zip's interface, but also added a map to emphasize the global feature/credibility. Right now we only have a cover page and the profile page. Need to figure out the borrower/lender UX step pages...any suggestion here?!

Yes zero-interest may need to compensated by other appeal. We hope this to be zero interest to attract charitable groups of people. If Kiva can run it that way, maybe we can run it that way too. Yet true there is quite a lot to think about to make better incentives. Do you have any suggestion?

Photo of Joey Chy
Team

You know what it sounds like...it kinda sounds a little bit like Angel Investing for beginners.

Even though part of the incentive for angels to to invest is the incentive for return, a lot of times these folks are getting in on the ground level of these companies because they believe in them.

I'm not saying this is necessarily where your idea should go, but I wanted to set the context and let you know what this looks like from a business perspective.

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Dear Joey thanks a lot for the feedback! We just updated our idea and will definitely need to consider your suggestion to know better what can be incentives for lenders to lend! Please check out the updated idea and see if you can figure out creative incentives for P2P! Thanks and will come back later to chat!

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Hi Joey. If you have a minute check out the linked Google Document - Survey for Lenders. We are looking for information on what may motivate someone to lend to different people to transition to RE. Any feedback you have is welcome - perhaps we should be asking additional questions?
 You are welcome to fill one out as well!
 Thanks for your comments!
Bettina

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Hi Shuting and Diana,

digging into finding contacts for my idea, I found a platform that is starting to become real in Europe to make possible crowdfunded renewable energy projects. The project is built by different kind of renewable energy players from european countries. Take a look into it here:

http://citizenergy.eu/

Kind Regards!

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Hi,

Thanks, Oriel.

Happy 2015! (Great year to make some impact… :)

On “Crowdfunding” sometimes everything is put on the same bag and can be misleading.

I think it´s important to tell people what they are actually doing and giving the right expectations. Transparency and information are vital due to this.

The “Crowd” can fund different purposes as:

- Platforms that enable to sell in advance products (ex. Kickstarter) – you get something, actually you are buying something, or think like saying this “in order to produce this, I need (collective) x number of orders/money (that´s why most of these platforms only give the money to the project if they get raise more than 100% of the target amount requested)

- Platforms that raise donations (in Portugal there is a great project, called “Bolsa de Valores Social”, that pretty much like an stock exchange, people “buy” “stocks” (or it is a participation unit of a collective donation) of this social projects and then can track their outcome (like investors would do. Also all the projects are reviewed first and everybody knows that it´s not for profit. (http://www.bvs.org.pt/view/viewQuemSomos.php, there´s no EN version unfortunately).

- Platforms to raise money through equity (only to sophisticated investors, people have to register, have to have than x net worth, etc, etc), could write a lot on this one, but actually is not an easy one due to regulation (was created to protect non sophisticated investors, namely if the investments carries a higher level of risk).

- Crowd sourcing (usually used for collective problem solving (as innocentive)

- Cooperatives, could also be added on this list, still I tend to believe that they have to have a local strength, demands active participation of its members (it´s one vote per person, etc),

There are several things to separate, namely because if it is an investment to the general public you are going to fall under securities regulation (or banking and insurance)
Otherwise you had to do prospectus (200 pages document, that only lawyers and accountants must read the whole thing), be registered as a financial intermediary, etc, etc. Companies, to raise money in the public markets, have to follow a lot of rules (namely compliance or the famous “SOX” or Sarbane-Oxley Act, in the US, there´s EMIR, MiDIF II (and a lot more), in Europe) and this same reality applies to companies, regardless of industry. There is the example of Enron (actually an energy company) back in the 2000´s. People lost all their savings (like in 2008), so information duties, monitoring, etc is part of the equation.

Think about a system of checks and balances, that every time you change something, you have to be aware of the impact that can have and if you are changing/removing foundations (and if so, how they can be replaced or the trade off in removing them).

For that reason I tend to prefer mix/hybrid solutions like this two, or giving a premium to companies/projects that have a social impact (but have good corporate governance rules incorporated, due to regulation, namely on investment banking).

In The UK there are some cool examples:

Social Finance UK

UK’s largest energy company teams up with social enterprises to build a £60m pipeline of solar energy projects to benefit local communities
(http://www.socialfinance.org.uk/uks-largest-energy-company-teams-up-with-social-enterprises-to-build-a-60m-pipeline-of-solar-energy-projects-to-benefit-local-communities)

£200m of new funding available for community-scale renewables
(http://www.greeninvestmentbank.com/news-and-insight/2014/200m-of-new-funding-available-for-community-scale-renewables/)

The conundrum is how to transform goodwill, brand equity, reputational value in value back to these companies/projects.

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Hi Diana, yes isn't it nice if more energy companies engage in renewable energy movements? And why wouldn't they if they realize that is the only way to be? For skeptical consumers, they worry that if big corporations start doing renewable energy now, they will be renewable energy monopolies again and their existing revenue-based and competition/hierarchy-organized structure may conflict the motivation behind renewable energy (I think Kevin below will agree). We know that money is not necessarily dirty and that charity can always work with profit-driven companies. In the case of renewable energy development, do you have any specific cases or conclusion to make about how to make sure angels and charity investors can work together for P2P lending? I am sorry if this is a bit out of context. Please see the conversation between Oriol and me in Oriol's proposal page:
https://openideo.com/challenge/renewable-energy/ideas/clean-energy-angels

To put it simple, how can we combine big and small finance in the context of renewable energy's community-based development?

I agree that crowdfunding and P2P zero-interest lending are two very different things. Maybe you can paraphrase and interpret the technical differences in your own languages for the readers!

I am going to update our entry by synthesizing and incorporating our ideas. And it will be great if you would like to write the financial/technical part of this proposal, by organizing your thoughts and contributions in a nice presentation for our interested or curious OpenIDEOers!

I will also try to reorganize the whole comment parts too. If you would like to share your part of the proposal, welcome to post it to my profile to here. I will post my part of proposal to Oriol and you after I finish it. Thanks :)

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Hi,

You may need more than just an “angle” to support, advice (and maybe an interconnection with local “angels” and foreign angels”).

Is the concept “Think Globally, act locally”. I incorporated here too (https://openideo.com/challenge/renewable-energy/ideas/linking-smart-energy-profiles-new-forms-of-self-regulation-based-on-collective-awareness),

Building these networks seems easy, but demands a lot of effort (and time).

Legal, tax, financing will define (most of the times) the possibility of replicating (just occurs to me that in Spain want to tax the installation of solar panels, in Germany the “use of the grid”, etc.), you could for example, go for after a KPMG (or the big four), a law firm (some of them have international offices or partnerships set up with law firms across the globe. You could also take advantage of big international companies (internally they can share, travel, etc and have more resources and may be willing to parent this initiatives under corporate and social responsibility umbrella).

For them the “pitch” is pretty much to use their know-how and expertise for a common good (they prefer this than just giving money away for the third sector) to do a local blueprint/toolkit to that specific community (tax companies already do free guidelines every year…)

Personal links matter a lot, because it´s by reference, they know the people and trust and give these recommendations to them. A lot of nurturing, so all parties are engaged, is a must.

Big corporations are already pursuing renewables:

Germany: check: http://www.economist.com/news/business/21635503-german-power-producer-breaking-itself-up-face-future-eon-and-eout

Portugal and Spain (also operate in the US): EDP R https://www.google.com/finance?cid=728685

France: http://www.edf-re.com/

On competition, big companies, always tend to have economies of scale. Depends on how regulators are watching antitrust practices. Still, big corporations also tend to be less flexible to change, due to a more complex and rigid structures. So, would be like taking advantage of their internal economies of scale and flexibilities of smaller groups.

On crowdfunding is one of those words, that is used a lot, like startups, entrepreneurship and sometimes they don´t say much. Crowdfunding is just aggregating people to fund/do something, does not reflect on what and how.

You can get the “business angels” community (as these, pe: http://www.eban.org/), that are doing something on impact investing (namely on energy) to co invest/lend. There is always the issue on “smart money vs dumb money”, and for example the Portuguese government wants (not sure if they actually move on this idea) to co invest in startups along with registered business angles. In the UK, also the government plays a role by putting a guarantee for the loans on P2P platform, for example. For them actually the co investors would be the end users, so could be a good incentive. This guarantee actually plays another role, increases the investment grade, so it not that riskier for non sophisticate investors. Problem is the use of public funds, like subsidies, always tricky (in the end of the day is taxpayer money… and quite sensitive issue). Maybe starting with a small amount, in local counties, cities could be easier and would keep the link within the community (they are part of the city and elected their representatives…).

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http://simpanetworks.com/
Diana,
I saw the above link on another idea. Is a payment system like this something to consider?
tina

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Hi Shuting. Congratulations on moving into refinement with this idea!
I wonder if you might gain some insights from Grameen America's work with MicroCredit loans to women in low income communities that have no financial credit, and therefore cannot secure traditional business loans. I see one of your goals is to support women who will work in RE in other areas of the world - as RE entrepreneurs. Great goal! Maybe you can meet women who are in the Grameen program and gather insights from their experiences for themselves and for their communities?
Maybe they would be interested in hearing about this idea as a possibility to access RE for their extended families in their countries of origin?
I also wonder if they might give some insights into the idea of using a smart phone for this. How would that work if literacy is an issue?
There are two branches in California as per their website - San Jose and LA.
 http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/29/business/microcredit-for-americans.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 (article about Grameen in NYC)

http://grameenamerica.org/model

 Good luck thinking about prototypes. Your ideas on this challenge have been inspirational. Looking forward to learning more from you here! (and I owe you a post on your other idea - and will do that later as well)

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Hello resourceful Bettina, thanks so much for your thoughtful and helpful comments again. I updated my Open House NewEco Tour with the link you provided (Open House New York). Pity that it didn't run into the final yet I hope it still gets developed by interested OpenIDEOers! Right now, I can only focus on this project first :)

I know about Grameen, and my fellow from Sinovator, a social innovation platform which started a few months ago, actually interviewed Grameen in China. I read that report but found it a bit general. So I will definitely look at the links you shared to get better understanding about his charity model.

I think that meeting women who are already in successful micro-loaning programs is a great suggestion! Thanks so much for the tips! What inspired me first is actually Kiva.org. I was very lucky to have a journalistic interview with Kiva and before that I did some research on Kiva. Do you know about them? I feel that Kiva's model can be very similar to Grameen's, since Kiva told me that they were inspired by Grameen a lot (Grameen was the advisor to one of Kiva's founders back at school). I look forward to your idea about Kiva.

Literacy is another great thing you pointed out! Yes what if some of the loaners do not read English...great point..maybe translation/localization of the mobile app can help?

I am also thinking that very possibly we need to locate and identify our renewable energy project borrowers with lots of new research. With lending for RE as a specialization, maybe we need to determine the necessary qualifications for the borrower for an RE project. Do you have any ideas here? I look forward to hearing back from you!

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Hi Shuting! Great energy going on in your energy projects!

Yes, I am familiar with Kiva. What were you interviewing Kiva about? What is Sinovator?
  I looked at Kiva's website. They now have a program in the US called Kiva Zip. It is a very interesting and exciting pilot project which provides ZERO interest loans to entrepreneurs. Zip is in the US and Kenya. (perhaps you are familiar with Zip? if not I summarized it here for all readers)
1) They employ "fellows" (a volunteer position) who go out into communities to identify "Trustees". Trustees are organizations that are working in communities, with entrepreneurs, empowering economic development in local areas.
2) Trustees are the local connection. They identify the entrepreneurs who they "trust" as hardworking borrowers with a plan in place. Basically they vet the borrowers and it is their reputation essentially that is on the line with the loan.
3) Lenders "trust" Kiva. Kiva lends the borrowers directly using paypal. These are zero interest loans. There is no finance institution in the transaction.
There are all different businesses that are borrowers. I read about a farmer in Massachuetts borrowing $10,000, a young woman in Brooklyn who is starting a mobile boutique in a truck borrowing $5000.
  Something to learn from?
From their website - Some of the Differences bet. Kiva and Kiva Zip are:
1 - Kiva Zip lends money at 0% interest using social underwriting rather than partnering with local MFIs. (a circle of trust - like your UX Map)
2 - Borrowers and lenders can communicate through the Conversations Tab. This allows borrowers to respond directly to lenders’ questions and keep them up to date on the progress of their businesses.
  
As to your question about identifying how knowledgable the borrower is on RE .........Perhaps the "trustee" becomes a partner who is knowledgable about RE, and can vet the borrower's project with their knowledge.

The big difference with the Kiva and Grameen models and your project - from my point of view - is that they are lending to entrepreneurs and you are lending to entrepreneurs but also individual persons who want RE for their homes or businesses but not to sell it. Vetting would be different. If someone buys a solar lamp there is not much to vet, but in huge numbers this can be very powerful for the environment. What if you partner with a group like Pollinate Energy - http://pollinateenergy.org/issue/ This could create huge impact. For larger projects vetting would require insight from someone knowledgable and that is a different challenge, and perhaps where a "trustee" comes in. Are you thinking about focusing on one subset of borrowers as a starting point?
 (The goals are different for Kiva and C2C - poverty reduction vs. environmental action - although one's finances can improve in many ways as we have seen when switching to RE.)

As to your idea about surveying lenders and borrowers within your own community - great idea. Looking forward to your learnings. How can you maximize impact with your platform by including a variety of people as lenders and borrowers? or is your interest to focus on a particular target group of both, creating an experience that maximizes this interaction?

If your plan is to target a variety of folk as borrowers and lenders if you have the opportunity can you broaden your survey pool including folk from a variety of age groups, with different interests and life experiences? (those that have travelled, those that have not, different jobs, communities etc. I am curious about the feedback you get on using this idea, and what their motivations will be to borrow, and lend - at home and abroad. I imagine there might be many surprises.) A broad group of lenders/borrowers can bring different resources to the project and different motivations to act.

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One last thing - I think this idea can have great impact in the USA as well as abroad. As Grameen and Kiva have expanded due to need here as well, are you considering the US for possible borrowing? There is lots of talk about lending/funding organizations in the US and also promotion of RE for individuals but I think that cost is a huge issue for many homeowners. Can your app become a resource for folk who want to put solar panels on their roof or buy a wind tree but do not have the funds to do so? Can it even become a platform for folk to rally their own networks to lend to them or even gift them, or a combination? One idea I had early in this challenge was that during certain major events in one's lives family and friends gift each other - weddings, and buying a home are two events/ transitions where I can see RE being a great gift. How can we facilitate one's wish to go to RE at these times? Many folk "register" for gifts when they get married. Can they "register" for RE? Not sure if your project is the "app" for this but I figure with all of your insights on this topic you might have some ideas about this.

Looking forward to learning more as you prototype!
Have you seen Joanna's blog post? It is great. Lots of great direction there.
Good luck!

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Hello Bettina thanks again for your great feedbacks! Sorry for late reply. Great explanations and I am going to incorporate them into my new post. I know about Kiva Zip and in my very original entry I posted about the difference about Kiva Zip and Kiva. Yet not in a fluent way as you said it. Isn't Kiva Zip great? Sinovator is a cross-border social innovation platform/group recently founded by a group of Chinese here in the States. We hope to introduce social innovation back to China! This interview with Kiva was for the first magazine of Sinovator.

I really love the idea about "trustee" in RE project vetting RE knowledge to their group! A great idea! And yes maximizing impact by including a variety of people is important and useful too. I am about to design user research. Any idea about what specific questions to include Bettina?

I remembered asking Kiva why Kenya and America as pilot locations, and Kiva's answer is that because they are covered really well with mobile payment and have mature NGO network. For RE funding, do you think we may need to take a slightly different strategy when thinking about locations? I think America is a great place to pilot this idea, yet am not sure what other places to connect it to!

RE as a great gift is another great idea! Maybe a $25 gift card for your sister's RE project? Donating + Lending...powerful! But do you think at first we should focus on one feature first?

About rallying friends, great ideas. I am thinking about using social media and email contacts. But maybe there can be better ways. I found out about this website:

http://www.shareprogress.org/?t=2

Maybe you already know about it?

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And btw Bettina if you would like to join the team, that would be great! Shoot me an email at shutingzeng.damu@gmail.com if so. Anyways I look forward to hearing from you on OpenIDEO or offline! I will check out Pollinate Energy in more details tomorrow...sleep time..talk soon!

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HI Shuting.
One quick note as I am running to work today. Yes I agree piloting in the US is a good idea. The one question I have is who are your end users in the US - borrowers? Are they individuals/families who want to put solar panels on the roof? what are the other options for individuals? is your target group a business? Are you focusing specifically on RE or will you consider funding something like purchase of energy efficient appliances? (I wonder if the cost is large how do you manage repayment to multiple lenders? I guess this is when looking closely at models like Kiva is very helpful.) What target user group makes sense for your idea?
(There was an idea on the platform here which was about bringing RE into East Palo Alto. I wonder if they have ideas about target groups and their specific RE needs - as they were focusing on an entire community.) https://openideo.com/challenge/renewable-energy/ideas/building-net-positive-communities-in-the-bay-area

 Will you create a mock up of the platform ? Can showing something tangible to potential end users be a conversation starter for your survey? Are you planning this as an App or an App and a website?

re: Getting your idea in front of people - Have a look at what Shane did in San Francisco for a recycling project idea.
https://openideo.com/challenge/recycle-challenge/winning/bottles-for-smiles-one-for-one

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Hello Bettina thanks a lot for the recommendations! I checked them out and shared them with teammates I met at a hackathon. I am going to comment in more detail later here and in email! Also, will send an email to coordinate a Skype chat with all teammates! Sorry for late reply! On Saturday I was pretty much drained after the hackathon. And then yesterday I was coordinating with other teams and then got sick bec of eating something wrong...this update is mostly what I had already written for the hackathon so not very thorough. Will update again soon incorporating ALL TEAMMATES' INPUT. Thanks so much for sending over an email! Really appreciated it! Have a great day and talk soon!

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Ok. Great Shuting! A hackathon sounds like fun!
I think Meena makes a great suggestion above - to speak to some RE providers in California. Do you or any of the team mates have any contacts?

Check out this model - http://ny-sun.ny.gov/Get-Solar/NY-Sun-Incentive-Program-Overview I think there are things to learn from here - about a comprehensive approach to transitioning to solar - it includes financial information and connections for low interest low services. I read about this type of Solarize Program in an interesting article about behavior change and energy - when you have a minute check it out. http://environment.yale.edu/news/article/why-solar-adoption-can-be-contagious/

And I hope you are feeling better!

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Interesting! http://www.arcfinance.org/index.html

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Lots of great websites and models Bettina! Thanks! And yes I am a newbie to RE too but we will figure out! :)

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Lots of exciting updates here! Have you discussed your idea with any potential renewable energy providers to get their feedback? (perhaps closer to home for starters) They may have some interesting thoughts to add – especially around efficiency, deliverables and feasibility.

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Hello Meena thanks for the feedback! Yes we are planning to discuss this idea with RE providers. getting contacts and sending emails now. We are thinking about connecting starters to RE providers near them, so RE providers can not only vet the RE knowledge, start the set up for them (as Bettina suggested) and also serve as witness/endorsement to this project. What we need to figure out is whether realistically speaking it may be hard to build many relationships around RE facilitation! Will update with user research when the result it out! Thanks and have a good day!

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Hi,

Not sure about the structure of the lending side, but some thoughts:

a) Why would someone lend to someone else? What´s the link? Or incentive? Trust is also an important thing in banking (clarification if it is a donation or a loan may be important);

b) For a lot of different reasons, partnering with a bank may save a lot of problems, plus they already have the systems in place (compliance, capital reserves, people);

c) If the previous one is considered, you may want to check this: http://www.gabv.org/about-us

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Hello Diana very nice to hear from you! Hope things are going great! All great questions, and I look forward to talking with you some time soon more concentratedly about them this coming weekend. Can I have your email address? Or shoot me an email at shutingzeng.damu@gmail.com. Would love to hear from you.

Before that allow me to answer your questions briefly:

a) Let's take me for example. I love my host family in Nepal and would love to help in a more formal way. I know them and trust them. If they say they need some loans for RE, I will lend them. It is personal/emotional connection that becomes my motivation. Sometimes, people do good for "feeling good" morally. Well still what we need to guarantee is good repayment rate and credit of our platform, so that people will start lending. A lot more can be talked about and brought into as motivations.

b) This platform aims to help those banks won't want to help, such as those who have little formal credit history, are too poor/underprivileged to loan from banks, or do not live in a place with good banking systems . Yet maybe I don't know enough. Do you know banks loaning locals for RE? Would love to see you share examples resourcefully!

c) Thanks for this great link! I will study it in more details tomorrow. And I look forward to teaming up with you to further improve a financial mechanism of this project.

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E-mail sent :)

There are few things:

The country of origin ties can be explored (as you said, you know them, like with every time, when one is abroad, there´s some natural ability to connect with people that have some shared link, as nationality is one of the strongest). Could be a way to go… Most people when they leave their home country, usually do it because they want to pursuit a better life, still they always miss “home”, quite interesting is that some may send some money back home too, etc..

Last week when I was thinking about how to put some systems that would incentivize people to pay back. Usually there are rating on things (like yelp, trip advisor, etc), but rating people or their credit is just wrong (for a lot of reasons).

There another options is to actually link the lender to the borrower and would solve two problems, by sending reports of the progress of the RES investment.

The lender would know that "his" money is being used to the right purpose and the borrower had to send a report (or pic, something nice) of the RES project.

This idea came from a similar example with education (there´s some kind of project that you give 20€ or something per year or month and you know exactly to whom, kind like a foreign godmother).

Why you may need a bank, lots of reasons: currency exchange (people will give you US Dollars, then you have to exchange for the local currency), if it´s a payment system there´s “know your costumer” rule, etc.

Even to wire transfer money to the US goes like this:
a) My bank account is in Euros;
b) I have to go to my bank, buy US Dollar, fill a lot forms, ask the bank to deposit that money on my behalf (and a lot of money goes in fees and love all the forms).

Or easier way: call them donations to the nonprofit/platform and the platform aggregates and make the “loans” to the other party.

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Dear Diana I have got your email! Thanks so much! I am going to reply to your questions in more detail later here and in email! Also, will send an email to coordinate a Skype chat with all teammates! Sorry for late reply! On Saturday I was pretty much drained after the hackathon LOL. And then yesterday I was coordinating with other teams and then got sick bec of eating something wrong...this update is mostly what I had already written for the hackathon so not very thorough. Will update again soon incorporating ALL TEAMMATES' INPUT.

About banks and currencies, I am thinking maybe using PayPal can solve the problem?

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Congratulations on making it to the Renewable Energy Challenge Refinement list, Shuting! Lending to friends and other communities for renewable energy projects is a really interesting idea. And we can’t get enough of the collaboration and conversations that have been spurred as a result!

Looking ahead to the next 12 days of Refinement our team – along with the 11th Hour Project and the advisory panel – has a few questions that may help move your idea forward. We’re loving your user experience map and are most curious about your end users. Have you talked to people you envision being on the online platform? It would be awesome to chat with some of them this week, walk them through the process, and find out what their motivations for being on the platform might be. It’s also interesting to think about leveraging existing social networks and how that may help with accountability. We love that the community comes together to find a project, but perhaps individuals would be motivated to give on their own. We can’t wait to see some small experiments this week – perhaps a mockup of the platform that you could then get in front of people!

We can’t wait to see this idea continue to develop. Check out more tips for Refinement on our blog: http://bit.ly/oi-refine and http://ideo.pn/rr-refinetips

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Hello OpenIDEO, thank you for the congrats and the great advice. I feel excited for all the final ideas and look forward to moving my idea forward too. I am glad you like the UX map! I agree that individuals will be motivated to give on their own and planned this platform to be both P2P and C2C!

Yes, for the coming days, I am going to design 2 user surveys: one for potential lenders and one for potential borrowers (and probably in both Chinese and English since that will help this survey cover more people!). As proposed before, the expected end users will be people with international experience and connections. I will start the user research among my friends I made during international travels/volunteering: they are either locals or international travelers/workers like me. Right now, there are 25 connections that are eligible for this user research in my circle, and I am excited to interview with them personally too.

I think finding out the loan amount needed to start a RE project will be important too. And the amount may be affected by these factors:

1. How much energy is to be produced: is it for farming, family, or industrial activities?

2. How mature is the borrowing community with renewable energy development? For example, are there already some RE users and providers in the community? And what is the percentage for each?

3. How many people will be sharing the RE and accountable for the repayment?

Please let me know what you think!

Leveraging existing network will probably be the special feature of this project I hope to promote! I believe this will lower the threshold and the cost for a transaction to be made! It is a great idea to start designing the more detailed and technical UX map/steps and walk potential users through them. Thank you for the links. I found them very helpful. I look forward to making progress with the project and reporting them back here ASAP. :)

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Hi Shuting and Diana!

I really like your idea and the possibilities it brings.

I've been asked by the OpenIDEO team to help mentor ideas, and would love to work with you and the "P2P Lending for Green Energy" team if you'd be interested.

It seems that you have a lot of questions and that is a great start! Have you thought of networks you can contact and connect to try to find people on the ground that might have a closer connection with the borrowers? Maybe micro-financing institutions or banking institutions that serve your target market.

Is there a way you can prototype this idea with some friends and family? What would you need to put up a simple prototype of what that would look like? Maybe you just need to interface borrowers and lenders on an informal experiment without a platform. What would that look like and what are the challenges?

You also seem to have gathered a lot of feedback form community members here that could be added to the idea. What are the challenges on managing all this information and what help do you need to use this feedback to build on your idea?

I am really excited about this idea and I believe there is a lot of potential for great things to happen.

Let me know if you'd be interested in having me help serve as a mentor - look forward to hearing from you!

Mariana

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Hi Mariana,

So nice to see your comment and yes we would love to have your mentorship! I read your profile and it is great to have someone like you who have rich international experience with community development onboard. Thank you for your good questions! I haven't been updating this idea bec of lack of time and also another idea I have on OpenIDEO (the Green Infographic/InfoGreenic one).

Yes I have got many feedbacks on this idea and they all helped a lot. The original version of this idea was longer with more technical terms based on my study on Kiva.org. Then I was thinking if that would make this idea look too complicated or close-minded, and decided to make it short and open to see if there are more ideas I can get from the community.

1. Field partners as intermediary MFIs: Global or Local?
In the original idea, I explained "field partners" used by Kiva to expand the network globally -- its the intermediary MFIs/Social Enterprises Kiva uses to connect to the local communities. I think its a brilliant idea: in that way we don't need to start from scratch, and can leverage the networks out there already.

When I wrote this idea, I was fascinated by Kiva's process: working with field partners to allow global participation. Then Kevin and Doug suggested that getting global may not be the most efficient way. I have been thinking if global or local approach to P2P is the more efficient and feasible way to do energy funding. I love the idea Give the Power to the People too, and their approach has been local: Tosh the founder of the project started from people he knows and already did three projects successfully. Do you think its better to start from local or global?


2. Work with successful P2P platforms to make more, better, green loans
If global, connecting with RE companies and NGOs may be important. Kiva has already been doing green loans. What if we approach Kiva and see if they would like to work more on the RE loan? Now, Kiva has Kiva Zip, Kiva U and Kiva City. Why not Kiva Green?
  

3. Legal and Financial details
Diana gave lots of feedbacks about legal and financial knowledge such as crowd-funding and corporate-level support for renewable energy funding. I hope to extract core content from the links Diana posted and edit them into simple explanations about the status quo of funding for energy. Considering that these will be very technical details that may be more useful in the refinement stage, I didn't include it into the entry at first.

4. Combine Mentorship with Money
I love Clean Energy Angels and am thinking what if we can find angels that not only want to provide mentorship on clean energy installation, but also hope to invest on that?

5. Most importantly: Leverage Previously Established Connections
I think to build a successful P2P lending platform, credit is the most important factor. My proposal was let lenders get to know borrowers via mobile social networking and then decide to lend themselves. And even better, if we can just find connections between citizens in developed countries who have rich resources and people in developing areas who can use their friends' resources?

My personal experience as an international traveller,volunteer, student and worker made me realize how much I can do to just inform my connections in America that there will be a great P2P lending/helping platform for them to help their international friends more concretely besides exchanging greetings and pics over social media such as FB! In my last year in college, I paid to volunteer in an orphanage in Nepal, and then found out my money did not go to people who need help! They went to the agency who connected me to the host family and orphanage. Since then I always hope to come up with a way to connect volunteers/charity investors to people who need help better. What if, we start from working with NGOs that have contacts of international volunteers? Then we ask these volunteers who they know and ask them all to come to this P2P platform to start renewable energy education and investment.


Ah after trying to answer your questions, I feel much clearer about this idea! Thanks for asking again and it is very helpful! I look forward to your advice on how to organize/polish/improve all this information and make a nice update of this entry! After listing all the points, I feel that the fifth one is the most original and possibly the most valuable innovation we can bring to renewables investment. What do you think? I look forward to your reply!

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Hello Mariana, I have updated my idea and narrowed it down to Community to Community Micro-Lending and Socializing + mentorship. Wonder what you think. Look forward to your feedback!

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Hi, Shuting! I just replied to your comment. Hit me up if you're interested in collaborating on our respective P2P platforms :)

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One of the current ways that consumer-level renewable energy (at least with solar panels) works in the US is that a new user buys panels and can sell energy back to the electrical grid and relies partially on government subsidies.

For this particular example, we'd likely need to do something similar, where the proceeds from selling back to the grid are used in order to re-pay the loaner. Due to the (relatively low) price for energy and (relatively high) price for solar panels (or other renewable energy sources), the payoff time might be longer than it is for other Kiva-like loans, so we'd need to figure out the right loaner demographic to make this appealing to them.

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Hey Ryan thanks a lot for the technical input. I was trying to reply earlier but found out I had been doing research on the wrong side -- I was looking at loaning instead of repaying.

So how do you think this repaying cycle should be extended? About the loaner demographic, I came up with some ideas with other contributors below. Please read the thread of chats between Michael, Natalie and me below! Thanks and look forward to your further input!

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Well, I think that's the most difficult aspect of this project. Typically, it's been governments to subsidize the significant capital necessary to get renewable energy projects going, so that could be one possible customer segment. Another could be energy/environmentally conscious people that have money that they want to put toward this purpose.

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Shuting, some microfinance and lending-pool people have shown an interest in the reconomy strategy described at http://reconomy.net. You might find some useful info at our website too, and it's briefly described here as well.

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Hi Kevin thanks for the link. I checked it out and found the interface quite playful lol. Still I didnt seem to get the concept of reconomy very well. Do you mind telling me in brief what is the reconomy strategy? Thanks.

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Thanks Shuting :)

I posted a brief intro to Reconomy a couple of days ago here:

https://openideo.com/challenge/renewable-energy/ideas/reconomy

I very much appreciate your constructive criticism.

Cheers!

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Hi Shutung. I hope you found the link useful. The Reconomy strategy is a community micro-finance system that uses local credit/currency instead of national currency. This use of community credit has a couple of huge advantages. First, any community can afford it -- there is now free access to the technology to create the currency and host local systems. And second, using national currency puts micro-finance clients in competition in the global economy where their businesses are impelled to engage in the same unsustainable behavior to survive. Or, in other words, micro-lending that uses national currency can turn a slum dweller into slumlord, but that doesn't end the slums, which is why decades of microfinance projects have not made a dent in the general problem of poverty. I'm hopeful that Reconomy's strategy will change this by funding new and local businesses that are supported by communities rather than slaughtered by global marketers.

Cheers,
Kevin
https://openideo.com/challenge/renewable-energy/ideas/reconomy

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Hi Kevin,

Thanks for explaining your idea in such conclusive and nice language! I think its a very interesting idea especially considering how the world-recognized capital cant really measure or capitalize everything. If I understand it correctly, it is like community-based credit materialized in transactions right?

I have a bit question about your idea below:
"Or, in other words, micro-lending that uses national currency can turn a slum dweller into slumlord, but that doesn't end the slums, which is why decades of microfinance projects have not made a dent in the general problem of poverty."

Can you explain how and why?

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My pleasure. :) (You asked about how to trade in the Reconomy system in another comment you posted after this, so I'll answer your second question here about the problem I see with microlending/finance.) Suppose you receive a microloan of national currency that permits you to escape poverty -- for example you are rolling and selling cheroots on the street, and before the microloan you had very little profit after expenses paid to your daily supplier, but after the loan you can buy your own supplies in larger quantity and keep most of the profit. As a result you are able to feed yourself and your children better, and perhaps you send one child to school and pay someone to build you a simple home. Now, suppose you wish to grow your business to increase your income. This requires hiring employees, and your prices must be competitive, so you probably must exploit labor much as you were exploited. On the whole there is some improvement where you live, but the economic system that you're working within uses a kind of money that's anonymous: it's possible that the money in your pocket was used the day before to support an illegal and destructive business in your community or another, so by using it you're participating in that economy, and your increased prosperity increases the power of that destructive system.

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very interesting Kevin haha! It reminds me of courses I took in American Studies: post capitalism, money as limited capital...Yes money is anonymous, yet it seems not to be especially in the case you give -- money is related to and authorized by a set-up structure, and any behavior evolving around this money capital may just re-establish and repeat the structure where this money generates its power. I felt that you are almost describing many traditional Chinese families who see family as a unit of interest and live under historical routine generation after generation lol.

Yet what if! this helped man was at first inspired in a different way with the loans he got , like you, like many who started very untraditional businesses? What if his own miserable disadvantaged position makes him realize that he can't repeat what his previous boss did?

Money true as an item is anonymous. Yet situationally money may have a name, speak, act and even feel. It all depends on the context sometimes but isn't it hard to figure out the unlimited possibilities of contexts and uses of money?

Do you have an idea whether charity loans have generated more "evil" or "good", statistically or geographically?

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Competition within the global marketplace impels us to engage in the least responsible development of human and natural resources to minimize costs and maximize profits because those who try to act responsibility risk bankruptcy. Some might succeed with enlightened practices, but the rule is they will fail, and as resources diminish the negative pressure grows. Within local communities, we are also challenged to behave responsibly despite the less anonymous nature of local development and trade, and this is because we no longer have autonomous local marketplaces but instead all must compete globally.

I believe charity is very good for the giver. But if we give someone electric light, such as solar lamps, then we take from them the starlight and also the need for light that caused them to pay for local energy development, which is a strong foundation for local empowerment. So this is not good unless there is an emergency. We see this happening all over the world now because there's very little awareness that it causes more harm than good.

Low-cost loans such as from micro-lending agencies can raise individuals from deprivation, and local lending circles support members in good practices, and they can be a powerful part of autonomous local marketplaces, but cannot by themselves achieve community empowerment against the influence of the global marketplace while they use global money.

For thousands of years, our main technology for "massive-scale collaboration (MSC)" has been money because it permits tangible value to be extracted as an abstract quantity. This allowed us to build a global civilization in which the knowledge and efforts of thousands of persons can be combined to produce goods and services such as modern medicine and computers and much more. Today the internet provides us with a new MSC tool, which combines knowledge and has recently produced Wikipedia, Duolingo, and other amazing things. Perhaps these enlightened few persons who wish to not repeat past mistakes can combine their efforts to provide a scalable platform for responsible local trade. Then the materials, goods and services supplied by communities to the global marketplace will be developed sustainably.

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Hi Kevin,

Thanks a lot for your thoughtful and thought-provoking answer. And sorry for late reply -- I moved to a new place and there is not yet internet. I agree with you especially as a past American Studies major. We learnt about the limit of capitalism and money.

I think we fundamentally have some confusions or disagreement about some conceptualizations. You seem to put global and local into antithetical positions, while I think global consists of many locals. I will say the "global" in your expression may mean "western/developed/predominant" economy or system.

I used to think about a system/economy very independent of itself yet had no idea how it could connect to the rest of the present structure easily. What switches to be kept on and what not to for a successful reform/change needs some precaution. I have some questions about the marginal group in the reconomy system. What if this movement cuts the members off from some important resources still just available in the money system?

And can we or can we not redefine money? How and why? True, people say history in China is like wallpaper after wallpaper -- under every layer is the same essence. Or financial crisis comes cyclically to the American capitalist society -- it seems to be the rule unchangeable. But I always wonder now in this truly more and more global movement with different kinds of systematic fusions and clashes, what will things be? I tend not to see too many "rules" tho some sociologists say so.

Anyways let me look at your idea again and try to come up with some perspectives :)

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Hi Shuting. Thank you for your helpful criticism. I’m pleased that you've found some value in my comments and are taking the time to look for more.

As I see it, our global marketplace in isolation is antithetical to local community. Imagine if rain fell almost entirely over oceans - this is how our national/global economy works: all goods and services, including money, flow to the highest bidders - those whom need them least, while work goes to the lowest bidders. Sustainable local economic development is a complete local circuit - largely self-sustaining - and just as with local ecosystems also exchanging value globally. And here we see the strategic failure of 20th Century development strategies: they imported national/global resources into emerging economies, and exported resources back to the affluent, adding another piece to an ever-growing wealth gap, such that the great majority of persons were never empowered to develop and protect their own local resources. I have a more complete description online of the alternative, complementary structure I’m proposing, at http://reconomy.net/Reconomy/Reconomy-Towards_a_combination_of_global_infrastructure_and_local%20empowerment.pdf

A few months ago, the WWF released their biannual Living Planet Report, which revised and extended their census of decline of wildlife during the last 50 years from the last estimate of about 30% offered two years ago, to the new figure of about 50%. And yet the mainstream media almost ignores this news of ultimate catastrophe while it continues to focus on renewable energy development, and the reason for this is that the dominant driver for renewable energy development is not global warming and concern for ecological crisis but the rising cost of energy coupled with diminishing resources.

The mainstream projects that dominate global efforts at economic reform are the popular campaigns that attract economic support, as a matter of definition. Their economic appeal empowers them to expand their reach, and in turn they acquire yet more funding, then expand more, etc. However, if an idea is popular enough to achieve this feedback loop and yet we continue to see our global health decline, as with renewable energy development, then popularity per se should perhaps caution us. In this instance, what’s disappearing in the fog is that cheap energy in the hands of developers with no local stake is used to eat the world alive. It matters little if its brown or green - CO2 is not the reason that half of wildlife has been lost in a half a Century

I personally lobbied in Washington DC for micro-finance in 1990, but now micro-financing is entrenched in this same cycle of popular support that blocks necessary reform. You can look at the work of the Dutch STRO Foundation to see examples of micro-financing that used community currency in Latin America. They had some success, but very limited because the "community good" isn't a strong motivation for many people - not strong enough to motivate many to seek community currency merely for the sake of community. What's necessary, I believe, is a community currency that is stronger than national currency - that buys more of what people want. STRO hasn't tried a pilot that offers this powerful currency at the heart of the Reconomy strategy, but they sponsored my presentation of this approach at the International Disaster Reduction Conference in Davos, Switzerland, in 2006, and they provide our Cyclos banking software and web hosting free.

We’re closing in on the future we need. Eventually, the power of microenterprise to build self-sustaining local marketplaces through the use of powerful local currencies that work alongside national currency will be demonstrated. And in the end, nothing succeeds like success.

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Hi Kevin, thanks for sharing your thought-provoking insight and I enjoyed reading it. My comment before was never criticism, just my wish to talk about different ideas with you :) I don't think we conflict. True and I feel as you do that it is saddening that everything surrounds and needs to get initiated by money these days. And yes many NGOs are too corrupt to do right things anymore. About how much impact renewable energy will bring to ecological balance, I am not sure and need to research more on it.

Another story you may be interested in: yesterday my friend with background in renewable energy told me that Tesla's electric vehicles are not really that environmental in the China context, since it costs a lot to the environment to make batteries for Tesla, even more than the traditional vehicles. I learnt a lot from the conversation, knowing that RE is complex and complicated sometimes.

I checked out your pdf and it is well written. Would you like to share more stories about your P2P lobbying back in 90s?

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I don't mean "criticism" in a pejorative sense. Constructive criticism is the best kind of response. This is difficult in the context of a democratic structure such as used by this site because popularity is a very poor metric. For example, even the healthiest healthy athletes can only manage to produce a kilowatt or two of energy per day for recapture to power lights etc, and that has a market value on a regional grid of 10-50 cents, depending on where you live; but the food needed to replenish the human body will cost at least five to twenty-five times as much. Consequently, exercise equipment can never be a meaningful source of electricity in developed economies, and the energy produced could never pay for gym membership - it can't even provide the energy necessary to produce the equipment over the course of many years of constant use. But in remote regions where populations depend on kerosene, pedal-power is not only economically and ecologically competitive but can also be the foundation for a local energy marketplace.

Energy storage remains the biggest problem in renewable energy development. Its carbon footprint depends on the kind of energy used to produce it. Over the next few years, most of these problems will be resolved to the point where RE will be less costly in every sense except for the most important one, which is widely ignored: cheap energy is how we've eaten the world alive. We see this same schizophrenic perspective in the 2013-14 State of the Future report, which begins with this statement: "The global situation for humanity continues to improve in general, but at the expense of the environment." We're feeding more people by eating the seed. How is that "general improvement"? Microenterprise suffers from a related blindness: if we graduate persons from the informal economy into the global marketplace we then increase our unsustainable development because income correlates with consumption. Any meaningful plan to develop renewable energy must be as a part of a system that develops all human and natural resources sustainably or we are only adding velocity to the crash.

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having donated many times thru international organizations I love the grassroot approach to supporting small scale development -
the fact that it is a loan maximizes the potential effect it will have in the community rather than having a donation swallowed up by paperwork and infrastructure

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Hi friend thanks for your comment! So what international organizations have you donated through before, for what courses? Also, how much do you usually donate may I ask?

What made you trust those organizations? How will you distinguish zero-interest lending for charity from donation?

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heifer international, women for women int, IDEX come to mind most easily there were also some developing weaving cooperatives in Guatemala that an acquaintance was involved with and a school project in Kenya that a musician friend was spearheading
donations ranged from 100-500
  trust? well some combination of blind faith and personal connection - thru some ag conferences in California I met some of the idex people looking for expertise input as well as financial backing
a fellow farmer had volunteered time with Heifer int so I initially gave to them in the early 90's
the idea of the micro finance lending sounds more appealing than a straight donation -
as for the trust issue in lending it will be situationally based

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also if there was a way to directly contact the person receiving the loan rather then going thru a clearinghouse group that would increase my personal and financial interest

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Hi Michael and Shuting,

I agree with Michael, I wonder if there is someway in which we could lower costs of all the paperwork etc, necessary that goes into this model. It would be nice if someone with a stronger business background who is familiar with KIVA could offer suggestions on how to lower overhead costs.

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Hey Michael and Natalie, thanks for the great ideas. Michael your very personal experience is very helpful in that it makes me think that charity loaning to the loaners' side is probably more like a non-investment investment, in that it really starts from the loaner's empathy,sympathy, personal connection and trust to make this transaction happen. So I was thinking last night after reading your post how we can actually find connections between people that are already there! People like your friends or you from a more developed area who travel internationally, form friendships with locals in the developing regions, and then have the capacity to contribute!

What do you think Natalie? In this way we will be able to save some cost on locating people who need help and connecting them to loaners from scratch. The increasing global mobility may already build a huge base of personal connections across the globe for us. All we need to is to find them, connect them more efficiently and facilitate the connection with mobile/online financial services. Since lots of paperworks which cost money and makes headaches to investors are for credit checks and insurance, finding the already-existing connection and trust will help a lot with lowering cost and boosting the efficiency.

Kiva does not charge any interest, yet yes the MFIs as agents which are Kiva's field partners have to charge certain interest rates to underwrite their cost. In our journalistic interview with Kiva, the president told us that Kiva's future plan is to implement more technology such as mobile payment, since smartphones with mobile payment will probably cover the whole world in the coming 8 to 10 years! Now Kiva Zip is doing great tho its repayment rate is lower than the traditional Kiva Lend without MFIs as the intermediary supervisor/credit checker, still 88%'s repayment rate is very good considering how large a gap of distance it covers and how many projects its helping.

So my question will be: how do you think we can find people and attract them to a platform? Maybe we can seek collaboration with organizations like Kiva and some international volunteer groups such as IVHQ etc.?

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Hi Shuting,

I like your idea but I think accountability might become and issue so I'm seeing if there is anywhere else where we could cut overhead costs. I've been thinking on this but I don't think my business background is strong enough so I'm asking some friends who work in finance if they have any ideas. I'll get back to you :).

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Hi Natalie happy new year! Yes accountability will be a very important thing to assure. And I think building a platform for people who already know each other to form this micro-loan zero interest investment relationship will actually help guarantee the accountability. Many Kiva or Kiva Zip loaners actually are well aware of the risks involved yet risk does not compromise accountability. Diana who is part of the team and has provided many technical insights for this project may be good to talk with too. Welcome to read her comments to this post and see if they are helpful!

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Very interesting comments. I would add that interest rates can quickly kill renewable energy economics. The terms should be the same as for housing, in the US 3+%, or less!

The non-recourse local energy needs are cooking and water supply.

Isolated power is good for global market suppliers with negative impact on many isolated communities -- as per Kevin Parcell below --
https://openideo.com/challenge/renewable-energy/ideas/using-p2p-micro-finance-for-powering-up-renewable-energy-more-evenly#c-201dbce1292daa28152d42b549d678a5

Many of the rural poor make $1/day. Use soft currency for local supply from local materials.

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For US (or mature markets)

Simple Levelized Cost of Energy Calculator

http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/tech_lcoe.html


Europe: Horizon 2020 Research Public-Private Partnerships, depending on the call, can be funded up 100% (burden.... public tender procedure)

(http://ec.europa.eu/programmes/horizon2020/en/area/energy)

For emerging markets:

Private participation in Renewable Energy Database

http://ppi-re.worldbank.org/snapshots/region/ssa#top-sponsors

(typical way of securing the financing of the project:

20-year power purchase agreement with company, with a payment guarantee from the Department of Energy/IMF/someone backing usually related to the government)

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The question is how to aggregate the supply of money (and structuring the rights incentives).

The banking business model (basic) is not that complicated. Pretty much you have to be able to secure long term deposits to do short term loans and your profit is the interest rate you may charge (plus have to consider defaults, systemic risk…).

There are significant differences between using debt or equity (as some called “crowdfunding” platforms, which are under the JOBS Act) and calling an investment or donation (different expectations, different set of rules).

One of the problems is that on the other side are people, mom and pop, that will borrow (if you go after large number of peoples, well it´s pretty much an IPO or a bond issuing and has to follow securities law (that depending on its regulators, have huge compliance costs)

I tried to frame the problem, for energy, and you can find some examples here: https://openideo.com/challenge/renewable-energy/research/what-considerations-do-you-have-when-investing-does-environmental-social-and-governance-factors-play-any-role

The Rockefeller foundation has great examples (plus they are disinvesting from fuels) too:

http://www.rockefellerfoundation.org/our-work/current-work/impact-investing

Achieving social impact at scale: Case studies of seven pioneering co-mingling social investment funds

http://www.rockefellerfoundation.org/uploads/files/78e66e85-ac2d-4124-8dcb-61e4149ef49d-impact.pdf

On ways to decrease transactional costs:

You can try to follow “fintech groups, that are disrupting on different areas and mobile payments is just one of them (there´s much more than bitcoin, still has interesting features and already being accepted by some businesses or Check for square (https://squareup.com/global/en/register)

Africa, for different reasons is an interesting experimentation lab for mobile commerce (and payments).

Mobile money in developing countries
http://www.economist.com/news/economic-and-financial-indicators/21618842-mobile-money-developing-countries?zid=291&ah=906e69ad01d2ee51960100b7fa502595

M-commerce holds promise for bankers in Africa and beyond
http://www.kpmg.com/global/en/issuesandinsights/articlespublications/perspectives/pages/m-commerce-in-africa.aspx

M-COMMERCE IN SUB SAHARAN AFRICA
http://www.ericsson.com/res/docs/2012/consumerlab/m-commerce_sub_saharan_africa.pdf

There are several examples that take advantage of feed in tariffs (as this one:
https://openideo.com/challenge/renewable-energy/research/community-owned-solar-power-in-brixton), plus most energy cooperatives work under such schemes. It is policy driven. In countries where you don´t have that, you may have to artificially be able to sell energy at a higher price.

Even if you choose go after the not for profit model (of raise money as donations, grants, etc, as Kiva), has to be sustainable. But there are some refreshing news, on the legislative side, that is on the intersection between for profit and not for profit entities:

“California creates not one, but two new social enterprise structures,
Effective January 1, 2012, the bills authorize the formation of two new corporate entities: a “flexible purpose corporation” (Senate Bill No. 201) and a “benefit corporation” (Assembly Bill No. 361).”
http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=9fd99958-8798-4e8c-bf17-ab2899ca8e8e

Hope this helps :)

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Hi Diana,

Yes decreasing transactional costs is very important. Do you think internet technology is the key? Before I worked on a project with a P2P company from China which tried to set up their branch here in America. One of their goals was to convince Bank of America to let BOA account owners pay directly on their website for either P2P or project crowdfunding. It is pretty amazing to see the barriers are breaking down actually fast in Africa. What do you think is the motivation behind the construction of a more open financial environment in Africa? Do you compare funding for renewable energy in the States and in Africa?

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Banking industry has been disruptive by technology, namely by the automation and optimization of procedures. in compliance, as analyzing patterns, digitalizing procedures (think about e-banking), etc.

Banking has several rules as “know your costumer”; “comply or explain” (namely related to Anti Money Laundering, AML), that are mandatory and most of these tasks are being replaced by machines (like with algorithmic trading).

In Europe, there are regulations for electronic commerce and one of then it is to have escrow accounts (so all money is held by a third party until the deliver is fulfilled).

For transactions across countries, there are also issues with currencies (you have to actually buy currencies); Visa and Paypal (some countries AMEX) are the best ways so far.

In banking, e-commerce, etc you have different legislations, in Europe usually are more concern about Consumers and they are designed to protect them (that could be questioned the level of legislation produced).

So there´s Internet and still no common playground on the legal side...

Take for example the competitiveness Index (http://www.weforum.org/reports/global-competitiveness-report-2014-2015), comparing for example Norway and Zimbabwe wouldn´t tell you much. Needs are different, in one place there are basic needs to be fulfill; there is a poor infrastructure (for example for building the grid for energy and communications). But technology developed faster and today does not make sense to build land lines, because you have a technology that fulfills the same needs, even better, and does not required the same level of investment.

There is also Moore´s Law that suggests that technological progress is exponential, not linear (but up to limits), so you have better, cheaper technology and the “catch up effect” that justifies the faster growth in emerging economies in comparison with mature economies (as US).

On financing, the political risk, governance issues will increase the cost of capital. There is a cool Index that analysis a lot of parameters regarding doing business in different countries of World Bank: http://www.doingbusiness.org/reports/global-reports/doing-business-2014

Different markets, different strategies :)

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Yes Diana I feel tech progress is exponential as someone who moved from non-tech to tech age and jumped from anthropology to everywhere else lol. Thanks a lot for your explanation about the financial terms such as AML. Yes as you say political risk and governance issues can affect investors' behaviors greatly, yet it didn't explain why some of people would still like to invest and help in parts of the world where there are wars, diseases and long-time economic depressions. I believe that behind even the World Bank is not strictly financial. Do you agree?

Thanks for your insight " different markets, different strategies." My previous question is about how and why even in some parts of Africa renewable energy investment is gaining momentum, while in some people's mindset renewable energy may not be the priority for them now. So what do you think are the different strategies for "markets" such as here in the States and there in Kenya?

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I like the idea a lot! I think it would be really powerful if this could also work with more than just money. What if the beginning of infrastructure was given, so that a community cold work hard to try and earn more loans and pay back faster. Kiva is a really cool thing. The key to figuring this out is what do the loaners get out of this? I think in a way this idea could work in tandem with the Clean Energy Angels idea: https://openideo.com/challenge/renewable-energy/ideas/clean-energy-angels

Great project! I look forward to trying to think about ways to move it forward!

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Thanks Nyko I am checking out the idea you sent and think that it's very relevant.