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SunFarmer - Power reliable healthcare with solar energy in rural Nepal

Let's help health clinics afford solar energy with an innovative rent-to-own model!

In partnership with
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SunFarmer - Power reliable healthcare with solar energy in rural Nepal is a registered member of the Energy Access Practitioner Network, supported by the United Nations Foundation. The Network serves as a platform for all energy access organizations that contribute to the United Nations's 2030 goal of sustainable energy for all."

A message from SunFarmer's co-founder

SunFarmer is creating a new model for delivering reliable energy to health clinics! Help us fund construction of solar energy systems at 3 – 5 health clinics in Nepal in early 2014.

The problem

2.5 billion people around the world lack access to reliable energy. Imagine going to a health clinic that goes dark when the sun goes down, cannot provide routine lab tests, and uses tools that aren’t sterilized due to a lack of electricity. This is a reality around the world:

  • An estimated 300,000 health clinics serving 1 billion patients don't have reliable electricity
  • Almost 50% of vaccines in developing countries are ruined due to unreliable refrigeration 

The current model for delivering electricity to health clinics is broken

There are three primary ways that remote health clinics access electricity:

1.  Operate diesel generator: Diesel generators are the primary source of electricity at many health clinics. Generators often break down, and sometimes diesel fuel just isn't available due to transport issues. And, the price is exorbitant: one 25-bed hospital we visited pays over $30,000 per year on diesel!

2.  Use bank loan to install solar: Well actually, bank loans are rarely available to health clinics; when they are, the rates are unaffordable. Even with a bank loan, health clinics often lack the technical expertise to procure a high quality solar system.

3.  Get a donated solar system: Donated systems sound great! Sadly, many donated systems haven’t performed over the long term:

  • Too much focus on upfront costs: Paying up front means that donors are often focused on upfront costs. This often leads to low quality equipment and corner cutting on installations – resulting in systems that don’t last. 
  • Lack of ongoing support: All too often, solar experts disappear after the solar system is installed and ribbons get cut! Systems can break in just a few years without regular monitoring and maintenance.

There has to be a better way! Help SunFarmer pilot a new model

Health clinics need a new model for getting reliable and affordable solar energy. Here’s how we do it:

SunFarmer is creating an innovative “rent to own” financing model for solar energy. We partner with local companies to install solar energy systems, built to SunFarmer’s highest quality standards. Instead of paying for unreliable grid power or diesel, clinics make monthly payments towards the purchase of a solar energy system.

What’s so cool about this?

  • Provide energy over the long term: Health clinics aren’t solar experts. “Rent to own” means that our solar experts stick around and make sure systems actually work.
  • Crowd funding replaces unaffordable bank financing: Banks don’t extend affordable financing for these important projects. Together we can create a better financing option.
  • Your money is not a one-time giveaway: We want to reach hundreds of health clinics and hospitals in the next few years, and we can’t do it by giving solar systems away. Instead, your money is the “loan” needed to enable health clinics to purchase solar energy. Any profits from energy payments are recycled into new solar energy projects, meaning your money keeps having impact, year after year!

We believe that developing markets can and will pay for reliable energy from solar. Banks aren't providing financing, and giving away solar systems hasn't worked - let’s work together to provide a new solution

Ok, I am convinced, so what’s the plan?

We have identified 3 health clinics in far-Western Nepal in need of reliable power. We are partnering with both the Nepali government as well as an award-winning US nonprofit, Nyaya Health, to provide power to these health posts. These clinics serve a population of 18,000 people, some of which walk several hours to reach the health post.

What does my money pay for?

These health clinics provide maternal and basic health care, and each facility delivers up to 80 babies each year. We plan to power the following equipment at each health clinic:

  • Lighting: For general clinic use. Currently, midwives sometimes have to hold flashlights between their teeth to deliver babies.
  • Autoclave: For sterilizing equipment. Currently, some health workers attempt to “sterilize” equipment in dumpling steamers, which doesn’t get to a high enough temperature to kill germs.
  • Suction machine: to help enable safe births
  • Computers: for record-keeping and communications
  • Phone charging and wireless communication: for communicating with other health clinics / hospitals

Nyaya Health has agreed to enter into a 5 to 10 year financing arrangement with SunFarmer to pay back the system costs in quarterly installments. In return, we make sure the system operates, is maintained, and ensure knowledge transfer so that the system successfully operates – after all, solar panels last 20+ years!

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FAQs and other details:

Who is SunFarmer?

SunFarmer is a non-profit that provides solar energy for health clinics and schools that lack access to reliable electricity. We believe that by providing affordable financing, appropriate technology, encouraging ownership, and sticking around to make sure the system works are fundamental to sustainable energy access solutions. 

SunFarmer is made up of a dedicated and very hard-working team composed of finance, engineering, and solar experts and is lead by Jason Gray and Andy Moon.

Head over to our website to read more about our team and advisors.  

Who is Jason Gray? Who is Andy Moon?


jason

Jason has been working in the energy field for over 10 years on projects ranging from billion dollar hydro assets to small rooftop solar.

Prior to SunFarmer, Jason was a VP with SunEdison, one of the largest solar developers in the world.   In this role, he launched SunEdison Canada and held P&L responsibilities for this division. 

Under his leadership, Canadian operations grew to 40 people, annual revenues in excess of $325M, and a sales pipeline in excess of 700MWs.  That’s a lot of solar! (LinkedIn profile)



Andy Nepal

Andy’s been around the solar block, and also clocked time volunteering in Cambodia, the Philippines, and Nepal.

He wore his first business suit as a member of McKinsey’s Social Sector and Sustainability practice, where he advised major international organizations and co-authored widely cited papers on climate change and public health.

Andy has been mastering solar development and financing since 2009, initially at SunEdison and later as a freelancer, closing or advising over $200MM in renewable energy transactions. (LinkedIn profile)

Who else is helping you?

We are receiving technical and financial support from the SunEdison Rural Energy Fund.

Isn’t solar really expensive?

Prices for solar energy equipment have fallen dramatically in the last few years. At the same time, diesel prices have risen significantly, meaning that SunFarmer’s solar offering can save customers money immediately, and save over 50% for customers over the life of the system.

Why Nepal?

SunFarmer has a global vision, but has identified Nepal as our first target market. In Nepal, 63% lack access to electricity – for those lucky enough to have a grid connection, the average power outage is 9 hours each day.  Yes, you read that right. Every day the power is out for 9 hours – during the dry season, this can reach over 20 hours a day!

SunFarmer team has built a strong foundation in Nepal:

  • Signed collaboration agreement with Nepali government
  • Formed partnerships with 3 of the leading solar installation companies in Nepal
  • SunFarmer team members were involved in the installation of a solar system at Bayalpata Hospital in far-Western Nepal in 2009
  • Strong network of local volunteers and team members

What's your current roadblock?

We need capital to fund the construction of these projects.

So what happens when you get paid back?  Do I get my money back?

Your contribution will be used to build the projects, and any profits from electricity payments will be “recycled” into new projects. So your original donation lives on, finances another project, and impacts another community.   

We are hard at work building a web portal so you can see the location and impact of your projects! We plan to have the web portal live in 2014.

What happens if you raise too much money?

No worries, we have plenty of more projects that are in need of funding.

Do I get a tax receipt?

Yes, we are issuing tax receipts; contributions are tax deductible in the US.

Are my contributions tax deductible in Canada? 

Unfortunately, they are not yet deductible. We are thrilled to have received our charitable status in the US so quickly, but are still working on our status in Canada. 

Please don’t let this hold you back on supporting these projects! Your contributions are still matched by SunEdison Rural Energy Fund, and will have a huge impact.

Is there any other way I can help?

Hey, if you can't contribute, we'd really like for you to spread the word about our campaign using social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and Indiegogo's share tools.

Team on This Campaign: