The Solar Foundation ☀️ Decentralized clean energy is a public good

$1,228.80 crowdfunded from 30 people

$5,812.75 received from matching pools

average score over 2 application evaluations
Accelerating access to solar energy for underserved communities via blockchain, The Solar Foundation focuses on off-grid projects in Africa and pilot UBI programs for rural empowerment and climate resilience.

The Solar Foundation’s mission is to accelerate access to off-grid solar energy for underserved communities in emerging markets. We harness the power of the sun and the power of the blockchain to deliver real-world impact by providing reliable and affordable access to clean electricity while reducing CO2e and increasing climate resilience. We believe decentralized, clean energy is a public good, and we’ve witnessed how small solar solutions unlock tangible benefits including community agency, self-sufficiency and climate resilience. We work to ensure that no one is left behind in the transition to renewables, especially climate-vulnerable people in rural sub-Saharan Africa—people experiencing increasingly severe climate effects while contributing the least to the climate crisis. The Solar Foundation has completed off-grid solar projects in Uganda, Nigeria and Puerto Rico (please see the Solar Foundation website for details and pictures). We plan to utilize funds from GG18 to scale our work and pilot innovative projects as described below. We invite you to join us as collaborators, funders and/or community members, and we appreciate your help in amplifying our work. Together, we can create meaningful impact—on the quality of people’s lives, on addressing climate change, and on working towards SDG #7: Achieving universal (and clean!) energy access by 2030.

Helpers  Foundation children


Since the conclusion of the Gitcoin Beta Round, The Solar Foundation has focused on the following key areas:

  1. Developing a community solar plus universal basic income (UBI) project in collaboration with Ayowecca Uganda, and GoodDollar. The pilot project will empower 50 women in Tororo, Uganda, by providing them with mobile phones, digital funds for mobile minutes and a small solar electric system. This project seeks to bridge the gender digital divide, increase access to clean energy and enhance resilience in the face of climate change. We plan to deploy this pilot project before the end of the year.

  2. Researching and funding an off-grid solar energy system to power the office operations for our partner, Ayowecca Uganda, a community led agroforestry NGO — replacing an unreliable diesel generator and its GHG emissions as well as decreasing the need to purchase fossil fuel. We chose a solution that can be easily moved to a new location in the future as Ayowecca currently rents their office space.


  1. Working with OMAWA in Tanzania to develop a solar microgrid and retroactive funding pilot to power the Iring’ong’weni Primary School in Mataleto. The microgrid will provide electricity for classrooms, staff houses and security lights. This primary school enrolls approximately 800 students and faces significant electricity challenges with no integration of computers and technology in the delivery of its curriculum. The microgrid will power OMAWA’s mission to support the needs and rights of vulnerable children.

  2. Partnering with Switch, a fellow Gitcoin Grantee based in Nigeria, who is developing hardware and software solutions for monitoring solar energy in a transparent and decentralized way. We will be working to incorporate their monitoring device on several of our projects. This will allow us to monitor the energy production of the systems. We plan to incorporate this on-chain stream of data into our impact certificate pilot as a proof of the solar project impact.


Electricity is an essential public good that drives economic growth, improves living standards, and alleviates poverty. The UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #7 seeks to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all; yet according to IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2022 Report, there will still be 660 million people without access to electricity in 2030, 85% of those living in sub-Saharan Africa. Stand-alone solar systems and micro/mini grids have high up-front costs that present affordability barriers to accessing clean energy for people in low-income countries and rural communities. People without access to affordable, clean energy use polluting and unhealthy sources such as diesel and kerosene for cooking, heating, transport and lighting. In addition, energy poverty results in a lack of consistent access to information, communications and technology and has serious economic and social consequences. On the African continent today, over 600 million people lack access to electricity, according to the International Energy Association. At The Solar Foundation, we prioritize solar solutions for rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa where over 80% of the people without electricity live. We can and must address the fact that African countries face more severe effects from climate change than almost any other region of the world, despite being the least responsible for the CO2 emissions that cause the climate crisis.


Helpers  Foundation Solar Installation

The Solar Foundation’s installation of solar power at Helpers Foundation Nursery and Primary School has given the school 24 hours of uninterrupted power supply, wherein students now learn at a faster pace unlike before. This donation has given the teachers a massive moral boost in teaching as well as enabling the environment to do their job. They can now charge their phones and also teach the students digital skills as well as basic computer training. — Chidi Okeke, director, Helpers Social Development Foundation: How the Solar System is Empowering the Education System in Nigeria. To effectively address the climate crisis, we must achieve universal access to clean electricity; we believe a decentralized approach will be required to solve this problem. Instead of large, centralized entities burning coal and other fossil fuels, The Solar Foundation focuses on localized, small solar microgrids and individual systems. These off-grid solar solutions can supply power to small communities as close to the end-user as possible, helping to ensure that no one is left behind in the renewables revolution, especially people traditionally underserved in terms of access to electricity and financial services. All African countries receive plentiful sunlight, and in rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa, mini grids and standalone solar systems are considered the most viable solutions for accessing reliable and affordable electricity. Also, solar and battery costs have decreased 80% since 2012, and an analysis by RMI forecasts that the cost of solar, already the cheapest source of energy in history, will decrease 50% by the end of this decade. In the same way some developing countries and communities leapfrogged over landlines and went straight to mobile phones, communities in sub-Saharan Africa have the potential to leapfrog over centralized dirty power grids and adopt decentralized solar solutions instead.

Solar & fencing for Ayowecca’s Agroforestry Nursery Through our work with local, grassroots partners in Uganda, Nigeria and Puerto Rico, we’ve witnessed how small solar energy solutions can unlock exponential benefits especially for those in rural communities beyond the reach of the grid. The Solar Foundation has completed projects with Ayowecca Uganda, Helpers Social Development Foundation, and Footprint Project which utilize off-grid solar solutions to decrease CO2e from polluting diesel generators and kerosene lanterns, while empowering economic, social, and educational benefits. Off-grid solar solutions increase climate adaptation and resilience, providing power to unlock access to information, communications and technology as well as for energy efficient appliances such as fans and small refrigerators. Increased access to reliable clean energy also provides tangible health benefits including a significant reduction in household air pollution by removing kerosene lamps from households, reducing health issues and accidents.

New Open-Source Models

Business as usual is not sufficient to address interconnected global challenges such as the climate crisis, gender inequity and financial exclusion. At The Solar Foundation, we aim to reinvent the non-profit and NGO model using the tools of web3 and the power of DeFi to create open-source, novel funding mechanisms. Our foundation provides tax efficiency to donors and funds solar projects worldwide. Our vision is for ownership, payments and system monitoring to all be on the blockchain for improved transparency, accountability and proven impact. A collaborative approach is essential to our mission; we seek to form a strong coalition of web3 and ReFi projects, and bring the voices of the communities we serve into the conversation. We continually seek to coordinate with diverse partners who share our desire to accelerate universal access to clean energy and provide an ownership stake in the solar deployed. The Solar Foundation also works with local installers to install the solar systems and support local economies. In addition, we will continue to support our projects long term, and we commit to learning and sharing best practices through monitoring and ongoing communications.

Who We Are

Jon Ruth has over 15 years of experience developing, managing, and constructing over 400MW of C&I and utility-scale solar projects. He has also been on the nonprofit United Solar Initiative board for six years. Since 2016, Jon has been involved in cryptocurrency, including mining various cryptocurrencies. For 20+ years, Jon has studied climate change and has a passion for building sustainable solutions to one of the most significant challenges humanity faces. Jon is building his legacy by making the maximum impact possible in the fight against climate change.

Coleen Chase is a contributor to the Gitcoin Climate Advisory team and has a background in marketing and operations at Apple and Microsoft. Most recently, she spent over a year working on the Gitcoin Grants program as a contributor to the Gitcoin Public Goods Funding team. She cares deeply about building solutions to address climate change. After adding solar to her family’s home and realizing how difficult it is to implement a microgrid in her community, she is committed to helping implement an equitable transition to renewable energy so that people everywhere can experience a healthier, safer, more secure and brighter future.

The Solar Foundation ☀️ Decentralized clean energy is a public good History

  • applied to the Climate Round 10 months ago which was rejected
  • accepted into Climate Solutions 1 year ago. 30 people contributed $1,229 to the project, and $5,813 of match funding was provided.

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