While many exciting things are happening in the world of sustainability finance, there is enormous unmet demand and significant room for further innovation. Remittances sent by workers to their home countries are a major flow of funds that seems to have been little--if at all--leveraged as a means for financing sustainable technologies.
In 2010, remittances were sent home by 150 million people around the world and amounted to $334 billion. Notably, remittances have grown steadily and exhibited far less volatility than other flows of funds into developing countries.
I am in the early stages of developing a platform to enable providers of remittances to assign them to sustainable technologies of their choice, and would appreciate thoughts and suggestions from the LuminaNET community.
We participated in a program with Arc Finance and their Haitian partner SogeXpress in 2012 / 2013. SogeXpress represents Western Union in Haiti. The program was funded by the Inter-American Development Bank. Arc Finance had previously identified a number of solar lighting and phone charging products that could be offered to Haitian diaspora to purchase for their relatives still living in Haiti who were currently using kerosene for lighting. At the same time some products were chosen to be sold in Haiti through SogeXpress's network of outlets. Our company, MicamaSoley, represented Barefoot Power and d.light design and we became the supplier of the solar products for the project. Arc Finance did marketing in Haitian communities in south Florida, they ordered the products, we delivered them to SogeXpress who then took care of the distribution and we provided the after-sales service. The project lasted about 15 months, ending in April 2013, and a little over 6,000 solar lamps were sold during the project.
There is talk of a further phase to the project but it has had many delays.
Great to hear.
Any idea how they made the Haitian diaspora people aware of the opportunity (communications challenge)?
Do we know how the actual process worked and how much cost it added to the products?
Distribution must be a challenge, or is Haiti small enough that anyone in the country can reach a reasonable distribution point in order to pick up their lamp? How can this be handled in a much larger and lower population density context where there are no existing distribution channels to many locations?
Key issue seems to be verification of proper delivery (correct product, correct recipient, etc.). Did the program include a mechanism for this?
I don't know all the details of the marketing but I know there were posters at outlets where people sent transfers from in Florida and there were infomercials on TV programs aimed at Haitian diaspora. You could get more details from Arc Finance. I have no idea of the cost of the marketing.
Distribution was not such a problem as SogeXpress already had outlets all over Haiti so they could deliver money transfers to people, also if they could keep track of money transfers they can also keep track of which solar lamp for which recipient.
Very helpful; thanks
Here's some more on the project you mentioned...
How's this going, Evan? Definitely interested in this, look forward to hearing more.
Hi Abigail - thanks or your interest. I've run out of resources for the time being, but will try to get back to this in the future.