Mosaic wins Verizon award, set to expand internationally

Mosaic, the first company to crowdsource investments in the United States to fund solar projects, has received a $1 million dollar prize from telecommunications giant Verizon at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

Verizon presents its Powerful Answers Award for achievements in sustainability. Some 1,300 submissions vied for the prize.

Mosaic said it would use the grant to develop a loan product that enables individuals to invest in community solar projects in developing countries through their mobile phones. When solar projects are completed, individuals in these developing communities will make payments for their clean electricity — using mobile phones — which will flow back to investors.

Speaking to Mosaic CEO Daniel Rosen on stage at the awards ceremony in Las Vegas, Verizon Chairman and chief executive Lowell McAdam said the telco would "help commercialize the product in any way we can."

Founded in 2010, Mosaic initially financed some solar projects through private investment before launching its online marketplace a year ago — on Jan. 7, 2013. Mosaic has since crowdsourced nearly $6.6 million dollars of investments for solar projects across the United States. To date, Mosaic said it has had zero defaults on its 20 projects and made 100% on-time payments to investors at rates of 4.5-7%.

Presenting off-grid solutions

The company said it is now seeking to bring solar to the more than 1.4 billion people that lack access to electricity, enabling them to leapfrog the coal-and-gas electricity grid and move directly to clean solar energy.

Mosaic estimates the market for solar micro and mini-grids to be $15 billion. "Meanwhile, there are nearly $3 trillion invested in socially responsible assets and $5 billion contributed to crowdsourced funding of projects in 2013. Mosaic seeks to link these pools of capital with clean energy infrastructure in developing countries," the company added.

Mosaic is already active in early-stage discussions with solar developers and entrepreneurs in Sub-Saharan Africa, Brazil, India and Southeast Asia that have pay-as-you-go models.

"We are truly grateful to Verizon Powerful Answers for recognizing the potential of mobile lending and solar technology to bring light to people in developing communities," said Billy Parish, Mosaic’s co-founder and president.

"By providing reliable energy to these previously unserved parts of the world, students can study after dark, medical supplies can be refrigerated, appliances can enhance productivity, and access to information and financial services can be increased, improving lives and alleviating some of the harshest poverty on earth," added Rosen.