Fundación Covelo: Lighting the Way out of Poverty

Jan 2011
Up to seven million low-income Central Americans live without power, largely because of the expense of extending the grid to rural areas. Many people burn kerosene, candles or wood, which can affect health and degrade the environment. Some families spend a large portion of their income to power diesel generators. Electricity is vital for workers and entrepreneurs to become more productive and climb out of poverty.A new initiative is making clean, renewable energy available and affordable to families at the base of the pyramid in Honduras, El Salvador and Belize. With a $3 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank¿s Opportunities for the Majority Initiative (OMJ) and $3 million of its own funds, Fundación José Maria Covelo is establishing a dedicated line of credit for microfinance institutions to lend to low-income families to buy photovoltaic systems. In an innovative arrangement, the systems serve as guarantees for the loans, enabling poor families with little or no collateral to buy them.