Nearly three million Mexicans are not connected to the grid. Ilumexico’s mission is to reverse this by bringing affordable, reliable, and renewable solar power to communities. Households get more than lights, a fan, or a television. For many, having energy access can dramatically improve their incomes.
Ilumexico is a twelve-year old social enterprise that designs, installs and manages household solar in some of the most remote corners of Mexico. To date, the company has installed over 24,000 units in more than 2,200 isolated, off-grid communities.
In 2019, Beneficial Returns provided a $50,000 equipment loan to Ilumexico to finance 15 solar refrigerators that were installed in women-owned grocery stores. This year, Beneficial Returns extended a larger loan to bring solar energy systems to fishing communities that were previously without power.
Last month, Ilumexico installed nearly two dozen solar systems in Baja California Sur. Residents of a village on the Pacific coast, and fishing families on an island in the Sea of Cortez now have power, and it has fundamentally changed their lives.
Before Ilumexico came to town, Pedro, a clam fisherman, spent $90 twice a week for ice to preserve his catch. “The fish goes bad very quickly, and we only earn 3 to 4 pesos per kilogram. The ice and gas are costly, so it is not a good business for me. My dream was to have a fridge,” shared Pedro.
Thanks to Ilumexico’s solar system, Pedro now has a refrigerator that keeps his fish fresh at a fraction of the cost. Less of his catch spoils, too – which is not only better for his wallet but better for the fisheries, too.
On a tiny island off the East coast of Baja California Sur, fisherman Juan B. also uses a freezer to store the fish, clams, and lobsters that he catches and sells to passing boats. In addition to preserving his catch, the fridge means his family can now enjoy various fruits, vegetables, and other groceries that otherwise would spoil without the cooler.
“With the loan from Beneficial Returns, we can bring more solar and more opportunity to poor families throughout Mexico” said Manuel Weichers, CEO of Ilumexico.
Beneficial Returns has provided loans to more than fifteen social enterprises fighting poverty and protecting the environment in Latin America and Southeast Asia. Our investors, who participate via recoverable grants, are family foundations, donor-advised funds, and faith-based communities.