Green Blog shares this news about a significant innovation at the intersection of crowdfunding, renewables and community welfare in Africa and Asia:
By visiting Web sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, you can give money to any number of causes. These Web sites collect small amounts from many individuals in what is known as crowdfunding to finance everything from business start-ups to charitable causes to art projects.
While online crowdfunding is still relatively new, it has already demonstrated that many small contributions can add up. Deloitte, the accounting and consulting firm, estimates that the largest 30 crowdfunding sites raised more than $1.5 billion over the last five years, and expects that in 2013 alone the number could be $3 billion.
Now, a San Francisco start-up, SunFunder,is hoping that the collective power of the crowd can help bring a bit of clean, renewable energy to people living off the electric grid in rural areas of Africa and Asia. Since its crowdfunding site made its debut last July, the company has raised $50,000 from about 300 investors to finance four business ventures that sell solar-powered products in these areas, according to SunFunder’s founder, Ryan Levinson. Anyone is eligible to join the site — so far investors have come from 18 different countries — and the minimum investment is $10.
Unlike some other crowdfunding operations, SunFunder does not contribute the money to these small businesses; it lends the money and charges interest. As the loan is paid back, SunFunder returns the principal to its investors. Two of the four projects are already starting to pay the money back, Mr. Levinson said.
Read the whole story here.