VANREPA / Green Power

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Overview

Bringing Off-Grid Lighting and Clean Cookstoves to the Pacific Island Market

Overview

Headquarters Port Vila, Vanuatu
Established 2002
Impact Areas Vanuatu
Type For-Profit
Energy Sectors
Business Model Types
Staff Size 5
Annual Budget $250,000
Major Funders VANWODS (Vanuatu MFI), AusAID, EU
Awards 2008: Santa Clara Global Social Benefit Incubator,
2009: World Bank Development Marketplace Finalist, 3rd place BBC World Challenge

ABOUT

VANREPA is a non-profit delivering energy solutions to rural Vanuatu. Green Power is its for-profit trading arm, which imports and sells solar lights and efficient cookstoves.

Energy Products/Services

Target Market

  • People living off the grid in Vanuatu and other Pacific islands

 

VANREPA / Green Power

Revenue Streams

  • VANREPA: Grants and donations
  • Green Power: Sale of lanterns and improved cookstoves

Value Proposition

  • Green Power was born out of the activities of VANREPA (Vanuatu Renewable Energy and Power Association) which since 2003 has implemented donor-funded energy projects and products.
  • Gradually VANREPA realized that there was a major unfilled demand for energy products in Vanuatu even for people who could afford them, and that it could scale impact much more rapidly if they started selling energy products for a return.
  • This led to the formation of Green Power as a private means to sell products, and this has now become the hybrid’s primary focus.

Problem Addressed

  • Vanuatu is an archipelago of 83 islands, and most people are poor subsistence farmers in rural areas.
  • There is very little electrical grid in rural areas, and most people use kerosene and batteries to power lights and wood for cooking.
  • These traditional solutions is more expensive and less healthy than the products VANREPA is offering.

Where They Are Now

Impact to Date

  • Since December 2009 Green Power has sold 22,000 lights.
  • Since 2003 VANREPA has successfully designed and implemented solar, micro-hydro, and wind power projects in more than 20 different communities.

Milestones

  • 2003: VANREPA founded as an NGO doing donor-funded energy projects
  • 2008: Green Power founded to sell energy products as a for-profit social enterprise
  • 2009: Lighting Vanuatu program started to sell lights through local microfinance bank VANWODS
  • 2010: Green Power introduces efficient stoves

Growth Plan

  • Green Power sees huge potential in the rest of the Pacific island market, such as Fiji, the Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea, which has a total population of 10 million.
  • Green Power is considering introducing other products, such as fixed solar panels for higher end customers.

How They Deliver

Product Sourcing

  • Green Power went through a long process choosing lights that worked best in Vanuatu, and ended up choosing the d.light Nova and Kiran.  Vanuatu has extended cloudy periods, and only some lights are appropriate.
  • There are no plans for local design or manufacture, as Green Power is specializing in distribution.

Distribution

  • Green Power sells most of its lights through local microfinance institution VANWODS, which already has a network of customers for loans.
  • Green Power is making a deal with one of the local mobile phone providers to sell lights through them, as the light can also be used to charge mobile phones.
  • Green Power’s main competitor, Barefoot Power, has a partnership with Vanuatu’s other mobile provider.

Marketing

  • Green Power markets with posters and by word of mouth and existing networks.
  • Local Peace Corps volunteers have been effective marketers, as has the Presbyterian Church and the government Department of Provincial Affairs.
  • Customers initially did not know there were possibilities in between kerosene and $1,000 solar home systems, but once this was understood, the product caught on fast.
  • Stoves were thought to be tougher to market, since the wood they burn is free (unlike kerosene), but in fact they have also sold quickly, since they save users time collecting fuel.

Revenue & Affordability

  • At US$50, the cost of a solar lamp is covered in 4 months with the money users save on kerosene.
  • Green Power’s stove costs US$40.
  • 1/3 of products are bought on credit from VANWODS at a 24% interest rate.

Financing

  • Financing product purchases is a major challenge.
  • Green Power has trouble getting loans or equity thus far because of the newness of the market and the challenge of finding investors while based in Vanuatu.
  • Currently VANWODS lends the money for inventory purchase to Green Power at the same 24% interest rate that customers pay.
  • Green Power is therefore forced to both assume the risk and pay a high interest rate. It is hoping to find an alternative in the near future.

More Resources

Online Resources

Contact Information

VANREPA/Green Power
Port Vila
Vanuatu

( +678 49598
* davidstein@vanrepa.org