Start up wants to power East Africa

Published 5:25 AM ET, Tue December 13, 2016
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Crowdfunding platform TRINE connects people with a disposable income to solar power entrepreneurs in Africa. Courtesy TRINE
TRINE hopes the initiative will help bring power to 1.2 billion people globally without electricity. Courtesy TRINE
People can use the platform either to buy Christmas vouchers as a gift, or invest money directly. Recipients of a Christmas voucher can invest the amount in a solar energy project in East Africa. TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty
The company hopes the investment will open up business opportunities for African entrepreneurs who sell solar power kits. Courtesy TRINE
Once a project is funded, TRINE lends the money to the entrepreneur who uses the money to buy solar kits. Courtesy TRINE
Powered by either a microgrid or a small individual solar panel placed on the roof, the kits are used to power household appliances.
Courtesy TRINE
Most kits include solar-powered lamps. The company has eight projects in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Senegal. Courtesy TRINE
The end users typically live off the grid in rural areas where kerosene lamps and other fuels such as coal and wood are often used to power a household. Courtesy TRINE
Kerosene lamps may cause health risks such as burns and poisoning from fuel ingestion, according to the World Health Organization. Courtesy TRINE
The customers pay the solar partners via mobile payment such as M-PESA, often with a monthly payment plan over a number of years. Courtesy TRINE
The solar partners start making loan repayments to TRINE after a period of between six months and two years, depending on the project, which is when the investors can expect to start seeing returns of around 6%, assuming the project is successful. Chris Jackson/Getty Images