Light up Timor through enterprise

In 2018, Renew was involved in a pilot of a new model of bring solar to off-grid homes in Timor Leste.  The Pay-As-You-Go model is a rent-to-own model where households pay a monthly fee over two years to purchase a solar system.

You can read more about this model on our website and watch the video below that we produced at the end of 2019.

This model is an evolution of the Village Lighting Scheme (VLS) that Renew has been implementing since 2007 to reach off-grid homes with solar power.

Renew has worked hard to improve the VLS over time, but two persistent challenges were: maintaining technical skills at the village level to maintain the systems; and identifying a local champion to take ownership of the program and drive it forward with less reliance on Renew.

The Pay-As-You-Go pilot in Baguia centred on a local social enterprise, Ho Musan Ida (translated as With One Seed). The monthly repayments by households allows Ho Musan Ida to employ full time technicians and pricing is set to cover the enterprise operating costs as well as recover the capital cost of the systems.  Once the families have repaid their systems, Ho Musan Ida will then have built an inventory fund to allow it to order additional solar systems.  The cycle then begins again.

In late 2019, the Rotary Club of Doncaster and the Rotary Foundation provided a grant to expand the pilot by 260 households and provide enterprise support to Ho Musan Ida.  Australian Ethical also provided complementary funding.  Donations from Renew members, and importantly the Renew’s Gift of Light campaign, funded an additional 300 households.

This is essentially seed funding for Ho Musan Ida’s solar enterprise. We have been amazed by the dedication, capability and capacity of Ho Musan Ida.  While we were locked down in Australia, Ho Musan Ida installed another 200 homes with solar.   We believe that they will continue lighting up Timor Leste well beyond Renew’s exit from the country.