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Inventive idea of the day: loans by mobile phone

Posting in Energy
Every day, amid the flurry of product launches and announcements about the next big thing, a few items make us sit up, turn to our cubicle neighbor and say 'hey, this is kinda cool.'

Today, it's the about one startup is bringing clean power to folks living in developing countries.

Mosaic, the California startup that allows the public to invest in solar projects, received $1 million from Verizon Powerful Answers at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show. 

Mosaic will use the funds to develop an app that will allow American investors to give loans to community solar projects in developing countries through their mobile phones. Folks living in the developing countries will use their mobile phones to make payments. 

Why is this worthy of our attention? Mosaic is finding a way to link capital from the crowdfunding community, a burgeoning solar micro and mini-grids markets and folks who don't have access to traditional bank accounts. 

Mosaic is working with solar developers and entrepreneurs in Sub-Saharan Africa, Brazil, India and Southeast Asia that have pay-as-you-go models and serve communities currently powered by kerosene lamps, diesel generators and harvested woods. 

Once Mosaic develops the mobile app, people living in these areas will make payments for their clean electricity, which will flow back to investors, who will make a social impact and receive a financial return. 

Since Mosaic launched in January 2013, the company has financed more than $6 million of solar projects. To date, the notes offered on the company's platform have had zero defaults and payments at 4.5 percent 7 percent annually, Mosaic said. 

— By on January 10, 2014, 10:00 AM PST

Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure