The Western Union Company, a global payment service provider, and Western Union Agent Sogexpress, a Haitian money transfer and payment services company and subsidiary of Sogebank, have launched a new platform that enables the Haitian diaspora to use remittances to finance renewable energy products for families and friends in Haiti, where only 28 percent of the population has access to electricity1.
Western Union and Sogexpress’ corporate commitments provide an ecological and viable solution to address Haiti’s “energy poverty” challenge. The two companies are key partners of the ‘Klere Ayiti’ – “Light-up Haiti” – initiative made possible by technical assistance funded by the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development Bank Group, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and provided by Arc Finance. The objective of‘Klere Ayiti’ is to catalyze new commercial business models that will increase consumer access to clean energy in Haiti. The model is based on one piloted in a previous MIF-Arc Finance-Sogexpress project executed in 2012 to 2013. The remittance platform will add a new financing option to enable Haitians to access larger systems that have economic, health, and social benefits.
Franck Lanoix, Sogexpress Executive Vice President, is enthusiastic about the initiative and the impact that solar energy will have on the lives of everyday Haitians at home and in small businesses. “At Sogexpress we want to help all Haitians benefit from our natural resource – an abundance of sunlight. With these solar lighting kits children can study at night, families will feel more safe and secure, businesses can stay open longer and people can charge their phones. Having a cleaner and more accessible alternative for electricity with the solar light kits has the potential to transform the lives of millions of Haitians,” he said.
Haiti receives substantial remittances inflows every year – approximately US$2 billion in 2014 according to the Multilateral Investment Fund. Remittances represent over 20 percent of GDP2 – mainly from the million-plus Haitians living in the United States and Canada. The average monthly remittance size is US$60 to $200, and a substantial portion of this is used to pay for energy, including fuel for lighting, cooking and transportation3.
1 Source: OLADE, Latin American Energy Organization “Comprehensive Planning for Electric Power Supply in Haiti – Expansion of the Supply for Electricity Generation”
2 Source: Maldonado, R., Hayem, M., “Remittances to Latin America and the Caribbean Set a New Record High in 2014.” Multilateral Investment Fund, Inter-American Development Bank. Washington, D.C., 2015.3 Source: Arc Finance, Market Research Study, 2009
ST Staff Writers
This post was prepared by Solar Thermal Magazine staff.