Bonergie Solar Energy with micro credits - A Social Business for people in poverty

Bonergie Solar Energy with micro credits - A Social Business for people in poverty

Organization type: 
for profit
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

We support people in poverty, with a focus on women. In order to reach out of poverty we think it is necessary to have access to energy. We provide Solar energy to poor people in rural areas in West Africa. Small Solar Home Systems can be financed with micro credits. They bring light but also the possibility to run small electrical appliances to start a little business.

About You
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Section 1: About You
First Name


Last Name


Section 2: About Your Organization
Is your initiative connected to an established organization?

Organization Name


Organization Phone

0049 89 21777912

Organization Address

Pfarrstr. 14, 80538 Munich

Organization Country

, BY

How long has this organization been operating?

Less than a year

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Your idea
Country your work focuses on

, TA

What makes your idea unique?

We help people out of poverty with an entrepreneurial approach. Bonergie is a Social business, which has the purpose to solve a social problem, not with charity and donors but with entrepreneurial energy and innovation. We offer a range of solar energy products for light, small electric appliance, solar pumps etc. We give a choice and in providing micro credits also the possibility to finance these solutions. Having access to energy these people can now start a little business and reach out of poverty themselves. We also reduce CO2 in replacing poisenous and dangerous kerosin and petroleum lamps.

Our partnerships focus on women because as soon as the system is bought the credit contracts are handed down to the women and they are responsible for the monthly credit payments. Women run the family and of course our Solar Home Systems effect their live and the live of the children most. Its normally the women who then start little enterprises now having light and energy. And they are able to do it because they save a lot of time and costs in reducing the momentarily source of energy like kerosin, petroleum and would.

Do you have a patent for this idea?

Tell us about the social impact of your innovation. Please include both numbers and stories as evidence of this impact

We have started our project in Senegal in the province Tambacounda in Goudiri, a small city close to Mali. Around Goudiri are 72 little villages with 300-400 inhabitants each. We have employed the first senegalesian employee. The first 20 Solar systems have been installed on a micro credit basis. One of the 72 villages have now in several huts light. Every four weeks our employee is travelling to Goudiri (10 hours by car), collect the credits, check the systems, try to get new customers and help starting little income generating businesses. We have also checked into Solar energy pumps, which we might offer in the near future. Water is available, but in very deep ponds.

Problem: Describe the primary problem(s) that your innovation is addressing

Senegal as well as other countries in West Africa or so called Sub-Sahara belong to the poorest countries in the world. In Senegal, where we have started our Social Busines bonergie 68 % of the population have less then 2 Dollars per day. Especially the rural regions are very under developed. Access to energy is a huge problem. Only the area around Dakar or some smaller cities have power, but the rural areas will probably get no access to power within the next 20 years. A development without energy and technology is very difficult. Thats why we address this problem with Solar Energy with the help of micro credits.

Actions: Describe the steps that you are taking to make your innovation a success. What might prevent that success?

We have started a Social Business to address this problem. We find the combination of social entrepreneurship to solve a social problem ideal. Governments and NGO can not solve these huge problem alone. Social businesses can help a lot if they focus on solving a social problem - in our case, poverty and not in maximizing personal profits. We are building up an organisation in Senegal already. We have our first employee and our pilot project in some little villages around Goudiri in the province of Tambacounda, 10 hours driving from Dakar has started. We have alrady 20 customers for our small Solar Home Systems. Our employee is travelling every 4 weeks to this region, collect the credits, look at the systems and helping people to start their own little revenue generating projects, now that they have access to energy.

Results: Describe the expected results of these actions over the next three years. Please address each year separately, if possible

We will continue step by step incrasing our customer base and reduce therefor the poverty in this region. We will extend our organization into other regions in Senegal and also other countries in West Africa. We will build up a Solar energy training center for our employees and a service organization to ensure hundred percent availablity of the systems.

To be successful moving forward, here are some things we need to consider.
1. Customer orientation - Even if people are poor does not mean they don't know what they would need to develop. To listen to their needs and help them in their own development and not force them into an development which we think is good for them.
2. Choice - Not only one solution but several to fulfill different needs.
3. Micro credits - The systems can be bought with small, affordable monthly rates. After 12 to 24 months the Solar systems belong to them and our customer save a lot of money on energy costs.

How many people will your project serve annually?


What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

Less than $50

Does your innovation seek to have an impact on public policy?


If your innovation seeks to impact public policy, how?

We intent to work together with the african governments and try to initialize a joined effort for rural electrification.

What stage is your project in?

Operating for less than a year

Does your organization have a board of directors or an advisory board?


Does your organization have a non monetary partnerships with NGOs?


Does your organization have a non monetary partnerships with businesses?


Does your organization have a non monetary partnerships with government?


Please tell us more about how partnerships could be critical to the success of your innovation

Approximately 250 words left (1200 characters).

We would like to learn more about how your initiative is financially supported. Please explain your business plan/revenue model

In te moment we finance this project ourselve, but we have started a campaign on our Website to find Social investors. This can be private persons, but also companies who would like to start a Corporate Social responsibility project. We don't work with donations. It is a Social investment which we pay back after 12-24 months. We work with the money and give it back packed with good energy.

The Story
What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

I am since 25 years an entrepreneur mainly in the area of IT industry, but I was always interested in solving social problems. When I came across the book from Mohamad Yunus with micro credits in Bangladesh and the subject Social Business it was clear for me from one second of the next that combining my talent of being an entrepreneur while solving a social problem like poverty is the ideal combination and can have a big impact on the society and economy.

Tell us about the person—the social innovator—behind this idea.

My name is Gabriele Schwarz, I am 50 years old, divorced and have a 15-year old son. I am since 25 years an entrepreneuer mainly in the area of IT technology. I have travelled a lot in my life, many time to Africa. I even crossed the Sahara by car and travelled through many West african countries. I have spent also a lot time in Cuba. During these travels I have come across many people also many poor people and I was always impressed how they run their lifes. Beeing very creative, they were always trying to make the best out it. I agree with Professor Yunus that there is an entrepreneur in every person and the best help would be to support this creatie energy.

How did you first hear about Changemakers?

Web Search (e.g., Google or Yahoo)

If through another source, please provide the information
Does your project address any of the following barriers to women’s technology access and use?

Women’s time poverty, Economic or institutional constraints.

If you checked any of the boxes above, please explain how.

In our case West Africa there are many barriers for women to access technology. Availability and Financing are the biggest issue. As soon as you leave the cpitals you enter the rural areas, which are for most organization not interesting as a market. From our point of view this is wrong. The so called Bottom of the Pyramid is a very interesting market as long as you provide the possibilities of financing.

Does your project involve women in one or more of the following stages of the technology lifecycle? Identification of the problem the technology will solve:

Technology introduction, Technology training, Creation and maintenance of market linkages for women's economic outputs.

If you checked any of the boxes above, please explain how you will ensure women’s involvement in each relevant phase of the technology lifecycle.

Approximately 250 words left (2000 characters).

If women are a focus of your project, how did this focus evolve?

The project focused on women from its conception..

Which type of women will your project reach directly?


In what ways does your project team/leadership involve women?

It is led by a woman/women..

Has your organization formed any new partnerships in response to this challenge? If so, with what type/s of organization/s?

Has your project leadership had prior experience with the following?

Working with women, Working with technologies, Working to increase women's economic empowerment through technology, Working on innovation.