Kiva, an international nonprofit that provides crowdfunded microloans to individuals and entrepreneurs, has announced the largest loan in the history of its innovative Kiva Labs impact program at $500,000 to the Altech Group of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The Altech Group is on a mission to end energy poverty in the country, where 90% of the population lacks access to the national electricity grid.
Kiva Labs is a long-term partner for high-impact social enterprises like the Alternative Energy Technologies Group. Kiva partners with founders like Washikala Malango and Iongwa Mashangao who have the perspective, proximity and expertise to make an impact.
Forced to flee their home village of Baraka in South Kivu during the Congolese civil war, Malango’s and Mashangao’s goal to bring electricity to the roughly 70 million people in the DRC was inspired by their families’ struggle to afford kerosene, a dirty, expensive and unsafe source of energy.
“Kiva Labs has been increasing its impact investments since 2011 as part of its efforts to make a world where every community has access to the resources they need. It is a privilege to be able to provide $500,000 flexible risk tolerant working capital to the Altech Group as they spread sustainable electricity throughout their home country. The world is rife with challenges, but in every corner of the globe there are entrepreneurs with solutions,” said Chad Sterbenz, Chief Investment Officer, Kiva.
Unlike traditional capital, Kiva provides risk-tolerant and impact-first financing with flexible repayment terms so entrepreneurs can worry less about cash flow and seize opportunities to invest in their businesses. Kiva Labs is deepening its support of efforts to adapt to, mitigate, and build resilience towards the impacts of climate change. To date, the Kiva Labs program has provided 160 business loans totalling more than $12 million to over 100 social enterprises in 36 countries throughout five continents. We support early-stage start-ups seeking loans under $500,000, a small investment size most impact investors are unwilling to consider due to risk and return factors.
“These funds will bring clean, renewable energy to communities off the grid and provide opportunities Iongwa and I were denied as kids. We should all share in the joy of spreading light in the DRC.” said Washikala Malango, Co-Founder and Co-CEO.
This $500,000 loan will help to provide affordable clean energy access to about 125,000 people in the DRC and fight climate change by replacing dirty, expensive and dangerous fuels used for cooking and lighting. The funds will also be used to create jobs across the DRC. The vast majority of Congolese citizens live in rural areas where the national electricity grid doesn’t reach and use dangerous and expensive solutions for cooking and lighting their homes, such as open fires or kerosene stoves and lanterns, which cost more than $1 billion annually and damage the environment and their health.