Our Model

GRID’s International Program brings local and international volunteers to install solar power in rural communities that lack access to the electrical grid.

Our model combines volunteerism with local workforce development and community engagement to ensure long-term sustainability of our projects. Each project is developed in collaboration with community leaders who are trained to maintain the solar system(s) in their community. GRID’s comprehensive approach includes meaningful community involvement, local partnerships, smart solar design, and continued training and maintenance to meet developing communities’ rural energy needs.

Impact

Bringing power to rural communities:

  • Improves health and lowers costs by replacing dangerous and expensive fuel sources in homes
  • Improves learning in schools through access to technology and evening learning opportunities
  • Improves quality of life and supports business opportunities by charging cell phones, computers, appliances, and other electronics
  • Improves access to medical care by providing lighting, refrigeration for medicine and power for  medical devices
  • Increases volume and diversity of crops through drip irrigation powered by the sun, saving farmers time, making locally grown food available in the community year round, and increasing the income of farming families

Lessons from the Field

We continuously learn from our experiences in the communities we’ve worked with, and these lessons from the field  inform our best practices. Because we maintain strong relationships with residents of the communities where we work, we’re able to see how their daily lives are impacted by having access to clean, reliable electricity. Through our program, people are able to utilize solar electricity to unlock new opportunities and improve the quality of their lives. For example, Eddy Matute, an entrepreneurial 20-year-old from El Guaylo, Esteli, Nicaragua is using solar energy to start a hair cutting business in his community.

Success stories like Eddy’s prove that there’s great potential for solar projects with a productive end-use, such as solar-powered drip irrigation systems installed on small rural farms. These systems result in higher earnings, more diverse crops, less time collecting water, eliminating trips to buy expensive diesel fuel, and more locally grown food available year round. GRID worked with the Valle family from the community of Jucuapa, Matagalpa, Nicaragua, to install a drip irrigation system in 2014. Before this project, the family could grow only squash, passion fruit, and tomatoes due to water constraints. Now the family has added onions, pumpkin, and plants for grazing cattle to their harvest and even raises Tilapia. The family’s monthly earnings have increased by more than 2,000% as a result of the system. The Valle family was able to start selling crops directly to their neighbors in the community, who then resell the produce in markets in the capital city and earn income of their own.

To explore the results of GRID’s work and the lessons we’ve learned from beneficiaries like Eddy and the Valle family, see our impact stories.

Learn more about the International Program

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