Home Smart 100 2011 Barefoot Angels Fund (SMART 100)

Barefoot Angels Fund (SMART 100)

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The following SMART 100 profile and the information it contains is a duplication of content submitted by the applicant during the entry process. As a function of entry, applicants were required to declare that all details are factually correct, do not infringe on another’s intellectual property and are not unlawful, threatening, defamatory, invasive of privacy, obscene, or otherwise objectionable. Some profiles have been edited for reasons of space and clarity. More about the SMART 100.

Barefoot Angels Fund

This innovation initially came to life when…

The Barefoot Angels Fund is a financial product allowing one-to-three-year asset lending to people in poor communities to pay for solar panels and LEDs. This fund is used instead of cash to help bring micro-financed energy to the poor in developing countries.

Since the GFC, western investors — large and small — have heightened concerns about where their money is invested, and want to know that it’s creating real value in the world. Lending as a Barefoot Angel delivers an unbeatable double-digit return, social impact and environmental benefit via a clearly tangible product and result, with short exit periods of 6-12 months.

WHAT & HOW

The purpose of this innovation is to…

Buying solar panels and LEDs for their communities allows the poor to stop relying on kerosene for lighting, which has health, financial and environmental implications. Micro-entrepreneurs loan from the fund to buy solar products to sell to the communities.

It does this by…

This ‘Venture Debt’ model allows micro-entrepreneurs to grow quickly from start-up level through successful sales, with 100% growth rates often achieved in the first 6-12 months. Barefoot Power also helps entrepreneurs in these countries develop business plans and gain assistance through the fund to finance all levels of the supply chain.

PURPOSE & BENEFITS

This innovation improves on what came before because…

Barefoot Power provides the products and the means to access funding for micro-entrepreneurs, something that had not been available previously. The option before was for businesses to sell kerosene, which is costly and creates vast amounts of carbon emissions, so it perpetuated the financial and environmental problems.

Its various benefits to the customer/end-user include…

This concept helps in three ways: the communities can access better lighting products, the micro-entrepreneurs can fund and start businesses and Barefoot Power reaches more people with its cleaner and more economical lighting products.

COMPETITIVE LANDSCAPE

In the past, this problem was solved by…

Energy developments in developing countries have traditionally focused on medium-to-large power users, not the poorer communities. By starting at the grassroots level and providing access to the Barefoot Angels Fund for micro-entrepreneurs, Barefoot Power can reach the communities who need the cheaper lighting options and start building better infrastructure from the bottom up.

Its predecessors/competitors include…

Kerosene suppliers and energy developments that targeted the other end of the spectrum.

TARGET MARKET

It is made for…

People with an entrepreneurial streak who can see a way to improve their own lives by starting a business and want to improve the lives of others in their community by selling them a better lighting option.

The Barefoot Angels Fund also provides a good investment option in light of recent riskier options, like property, since the GFC. Angel investors provide the necessary funding through the Barefoot Angels Fund for the micro-entrepreneurs to build their own business. The micro-finance industry has low default rates, which can be demonstrated over the past 15 years.

DISTRIBUTION STRATEGY

It is available for sale through…

Barefoot Power has in-country distribution units, which were started to develop market leadership in 4-7 countries (most of which will be in Africa). The organisation helps micro-entrepreneurs in these countries through the Barefoot Angels Fund.

Our marketing strategy is to…

Barefoot Power uses its in-country support teams to spread the word of the fund and opportunities for micro-entrepreneurs and has used word of mouth, email marketing, conferences/trade shows, public relations and awards programs to build the Barefoot Angels Fund profile in Australia and internationally.

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