In Guatemala, over two million people live without electricity. Solar power can help, but even the cheapest solar products are often out of reach for these families. A small company called Quetsol is working on a new way to let people purchase electricity over time: pay-as-you-go solar.
Quetsol, started by Guatemalans Juan Rodriguez and Tono Aguilar, started selling small solar kits in 2010. Their customers applied for microloans through banks to pay for the kits, but the banks haven't been able to keep up with demand; right now, half of Quetsol's customers are still waiting for their applications to be processed. So Quetsol decided to take on the financing problem themselves.
Here's how it works: a customer can use their cell phone to sign up for a Quetsol account, and they can also use their cell phone to pay for power as they go. As Quetsol's founders explain on Indiegogo:
No more eight-hour trips to bank branches, no more unjustified rejections and lost applications by the banks. No more waiting for an energy solution for Guatemala's poorest residents when it is right at our fingertips. Pay-As-You-Go solar kits will put the power to achieve their energy goals in the hands of our clients, and not the banks. In turn, Quetsol will offer a lifetime warranty on every solar kit: Each battery change and kit repair will be on us.
Solar power brings powerful change to the subsistence farmers Quetsol works with: families no longer have to rely on dirty, expensive kerosene or candles, or walk miles to pay for charging a cell phone. Families can do extra work at night, and children can study.
This month, challenge a neighbor to GOOD's energy smackdown. Find a neighbor with a household of roughly the same square footage and see who can trim their power bill the most. Throughout February, we'll share ideas and resources for shrinking your household carbon footprint, so join the conversation at good.is/energy.
Original image courtesy of Quetsol