Social enterprise Barefoot Power was one of 14 winners in the G-20 SME Finance Challenge, recognising the important work it does in providing lighting solutions in developing countries.
Barefoot Power formed an innovative trade finance fund with Dutch microfinance investor Oikocredit and the European Infrastructure Fund to offer short-term loans to help SMEs sell microbusiness solutions designed by the company, Barefoot Power founder Stewart Craine explained.
“This ‘Venture Debt’ model allows SMEs and micro-entrepreneurs to grow quickly from start-up level through successful sales, with 100 per cent growth rates often achieved in the first 6-12 months,” Mr Craine said.
“As well as developing, manufacturing and distributing high quality and affordable LED home lighting systems in developing countries, Barefoot Power also helps entrepreneurs in these countries develop business plans and gain assistance from microfinance institutions to finance all levels of the supply chain,” he added.
Barefoot Power’s innovative solution was selected from more than 350 proposals, and the project was recognised at the G-20 Summit in Seoul, South Korea, earlier this month.
“It has been fantastic to have our company vision recognised with such a respected award and this will enable us to expand our product lines and help more people in developing countries,” Mr Craine said.
G-20 members launched an SME Finance Innovation Fund at the summit, committing US $528 million (US $500 million in commercial funding and US $28 million in grants) to support the fund, some of which will support the 14 winning solutions.
This award comes hot on the heels of Barefoot Power being one of two winners at the first CTI PFAN Africa Forum for Clean Energy Financing and earlier this year won three awards in the World Bank’s Lighting Africa program.
“These wins will help significantly with our current Series B round of equity capital raising. We are now looking for more investors, especially Australian investors, as most of our funding currently comes from overseas,” he added.
The company also secured a €1 million grant from the European Union via EuropeAid this year and was named in the 2010 and 2009 Australian Anthill Smart 100 Awards.
Barefoot Power has also recently been featured on the Sky News Business Social Business show, in conjunction with the Centre for Social Impact, and appeared on ABC’s New Inventors program in July.
The European Union, Ashoka, G-20, CTI PFAN and the Centre for Social Impact are valued supporters of Barefoot Power.
For more information visit www.barefootpower.com