In Mexico two million people still lack access to electricity and millions more rely on expensive and dirty diesel generators to power their homes and businesses. Access to reliable and affordable energy is a foundational step to eliminating poverty but power lines aren’t coming anytime soon to Mexico’s remotest villages. Ilumexico, a seven year-old social enterprise, brings solar electricity to these communities.
In addition to solar lights, Ilumexico also builds and installs solar-powered refrigerators that bring business opportunities and convenience to Mexico’s rural poor. Beneficial Returns provided a loan to Ilumexico so they could, in turn, provide long term financing to their growing list of grocery store clients.
With dependable solar refrigeration grocery store owners can affordably and safely sell meat, fish, dairy and cold drinks. The inconvenience and cost of ice and spoiled inventory ends when a Kryos fridge arrives, and Ilumexico customers have been able to comfortably repay their loans through their added income and reduced costs.
Through their network of twelve regional retail branches, Ilumexico has brought renewable energy to nearly 10,000 households. The company’s ability to deploy market-based solutions to alleviate energy poverty in Mexico has been recognized by Ashoka, the Global Social Business Incubator (GSBI) at Santa Clara University and by Endeavor.
Fondo Mexicano para la Conservacion de la Naturaleza (FMCN), an environmental foundation headquartered in Mexico City, provided a currency hedge which enables Ilumexico to make predictable monthly payments in pesos and enables Beneficial Returns to meet its dollar-denominated obligations to its investors.
Beneficial Returns’ investors expect a financial return and deep impact as well. To that end, Beneficial Returns added an unusual feature to its loan. The impact debt fund will waive the final monthly loan payment if the borrower surpasses 30,000 solar installations by August, 2022 (a goal that Ilumexico set for themselves.) Ted Levinson, founder of Beneficial Returns said, “I love their ambition and we hope they exceed their goal – everyone deserves access to energy and Ilumexico deserves our support.”