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    Invest in a Grassroots Green Economy Through Kiva

    Twenty percent of the world’s population — 1.3 billion people — continue to use unhealthy, polluting sources of energy such as kerosene, charcoal and diesel. Black carbon, for example, which is produced by kerosene cookstoves, may garner fewer headlines than CO2, but it is the #2 culprit on the list of greenhouse gases contributing to climate change. Yet even those who wish to make a change often can’t afford the upfront costs of a clean cookstove or switching to cleaner, renewable energy sources such as solar.

    A mom of two young children, Zobeyda was worried about how soot from kerosene lamps was affecting her family’s health. She used a Kiva loan to purchase a solar lighting system for her home and grocery shop in Nicaragua.

    Through Kiva, anyone with an internet connection can make a green loan of as little as $25 to help families and small businesses install solar lighting systems, purchase clean cookstoves, distribute renewable energy products in rural areas, reduce household energy consumption and implement sustainable agricultural practices. Because Kiva microloans help replace the most damaging sources of greenhouse gas emissions, they can have an outsized impact on climate.

    One of the projects fundraising on Kiva right now will bring clean, solar energy to low-income households in Tanzania. You can help crowdfund the 0% interest $30,000 loan with as little as $25. This loan will help Sikubora Limited distribute 100 more solar home systems, providing power to an additional 500 off-grid Tanzanians.

    “When governments step back, Kiva’s lenders step up to fund grassroots solutions,” said Premal Shah, president and co-founder of Kiva, which has crowdsourced microloans for 2.5 million borrowers around the world. “When it comes to climate change, we all share the costs. The cost of doing something can be as little as $25. The cost of doing nothing is much higher.”

    While the impact of replacing cookstoves and household lighting systems one by one may not sound big, the United Nations Environment Program estimates that replacing common lighting sources with energy-efficient, off-grid alternatives like rechargeable solar lamps will reduce carbon emissions by 74 million tons, annually.

    Plus, because Kiva makes loans rather than donations, and 97 percent get paid back, lenders can reinvest their $25 to make a difference again and again, multiplying the impact of their investment.

    To learn more about this wonderful micro loan platform, and to support a borrower on Kiva in honor of Earth Day, visit www.Kiva.org/EarthDay.

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