MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: MicroLoan Foundation Launches Solar Power Pilot Project in Malawi to Serve Women in Microfinance Groups

MicroLoan Foundation, UK-based nonprofit that works to promote entrepreneurship among women in sub-Saharan Africa, has launched a pilot project in Malawi’s rural Kasungu region that is designed to provide women entrepreneurs with an opportunity to tackle the problem of an unreliable electricity supply [1]. Nine members from the foundation’s microfinance groups have been selected to receive an array of solar products including a 1.5 watt solar panel, an LED light, a mobile phone battery charger and battery pack which stores the solar energy for use when the sun is not out. The woman can choose to either sell or rent out the products. The “solar entrepreneurs” were selected based on their successful business background including their ability to sell new products. The women attended a three-day training workshop at which they learned how the panels work, how to repair faulty units, how to charge clients’ mobile phone batteries, how to identify clients and how to keep records of their sales.

MicroLoan Foundation provides women entrepreneurs the opportunity to start small businesses and has branches in Malawi, Zambia and Namibia. As of 2009, MicroLoan Foundation reported having disbursed 38,700 loans to approximately 20,000 women. 37,900 of the loans were issued in Malawi.

By Nisha Koul, Research Associate

About MicroLoan Foundation: MicroLoan Foundation is a UK-based nonprofit focused on sub-Saharan Africa with the mission “to help poor rural women set up businesses to generate income to feed and look after their families.” As of 2010, the foundation reported branches in Malawi, Zambia and Namibia. The MicroLoan Foundation does not report financial data to US-based nonprofit Microfinance Information Exchange (MIX). As of 2009, MicroLoan Foundation reported having disbursed 38,700 loans to approximately 20,000 women. 37,900 of the loans were issued in Malawi.

Sources and Additional Resources:

[1] MicroLoan Foundation, “Malawi’s Solar Women,”  http://www.microloanfoundation.org.uk/success-stories/case-studies/11-09-26/Malawi_s_Solar_Women.aspx

MicroCapital.org story, October 1, 2011, “MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Prathama, Aryavart Gramin, Gomti-Kashi Banks Bring Solar Lighting to India’s Rural Villages Through Microfinance,” http://www.microcapital.org/microcapital-brief-prathama-aryavart-gramin-gomti-kashi-banks-bring-solar-lighting-to-india%e2%80%99s-rural-villages-through-microfinance/

MicroCapital.org story, July 19, 2010, “MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Invests $1.8m in Solar Panels in Nepal, to be Distributed via Microloans Disbursed by Ace Development Bank, Provider of Microfinance and Traditional Banking Services,” http://www.microcapital.org/microcapital-brief-united-nations-environment-programme-unep-invests-1-8m-in-solar-panels-in-nepal-to-be-distributed-via-microloans-disbursed-by-ace-development-bank-provider-of-microfinance-and/

MicroCapital Universe profile: MicroLoan Foundation, http://www.microcapital.org/microfinanceuniverse/tiki-index.php?page=MicroLoan+Foundation

Browse the MicroCapital Universe and add your entry to the wiki at http://www.microcapital.org/microfinanceuniverse/

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