People living in poverty rent economical household appliances

Today, much attention is paid to consciously choosing a more sustainable and environmentally friendly way of living. Governments are also imposing more and more ecological guidelines and targets. This is good news, but people living below the poverty line do not always have the opportunity to make environmentally friendly choices. After all, a wood-burning stove is much cheaper than insulating a house, and a new refrigerator or washing machine, let alone an energy-efficient one, is unaffordable. People in vulnerable situations are entitled to reduced electricity rates but that does not solve the problem. Purchasing an installment will also cost them a lot in interest at the end of the day. And many of these vulnerable families are not creditworthy enough for an energy loan.

In order to find a solution for this energy poverty, Stefan Goemaere of Samenlevingsopbouw West-Vlaanderen came up with the circular project 'Papillon'. The principle is simple: families that live below the poverty line and do not have the means to buy a new household appliance can rent energy-friendly appliances at a low monthly rate of 7 euros.

For the project, Samenlevingsopbouw West-Vlaanderen worked together with Bosch Huishoudelektro, which supplies, maintains and, if necessary, replaces the appliances. During the project, Bosch also had the circular idea of offering refurbished appliances for rent. These are appliances that, for example, received a small repair under guarantee or were damaged during transport... These appliances are then refurbished in cooperation with Sofie, a social economy company from Liège.


  1. Already 81 vulnerable families have been helped. They can rent an energy-efficient appliance for a small price, which also saves on electricity and water consumption. Maintenance, repairs and replacements are also covered by a 10-year guarantee.
  2. Both Bosch and the customer will see an immediate reduction in C02 emissions. Over the ten-year period, 120 leased units will save the equivalent of 313,000 car kilometres in CO2 emissions.
  3. As far as employment is concerned, 1 community worker was hired. Indirectly, Papillon does provide work for Bosch and the social economy company Sofie. This will grow considerably as more equipment is rented out.
  4. The project received a lot of positive attention: there was an article in the OVAM-journal, the European Commission promotes us as a good practice, there was an article in De Standaard and we won the climate trophy for their contest 'Radical Innovators'.


  1. Partnership is a real added value. A social partner joins forces with a commercial partner to tackle a social problem and at the same time makes environmental, climate and economic gains. Both partners need each other to make this project a success.
  2. At present, Bosch's IT system is still geared to selling appliances rather than renting them out. The rental model is not yet automated internally, and the administration is still struggling a little with monitoring the appliances.
  3. Financially, we still need to find a solution for a risk fund at the highest possible level. After all, we work with a very vulnerable target group that could fall into arrears with payments. With a risk fund in place, Bosch would still be able to receive the rents it had promised at the end of the year.
  4. By monitoring them for 10 years, Bosch gains a wealth of information about the appliances. With this, Bosch can improve its appliances in the future in terms of repairability, longer life, recyclability, etc. This enables Bosch to focus even more closely on a circular market.
81 families in poverty helped
120 rental equipment in circulation
4.000 additional devices per year (2021)
10 year-long warranty


The Papillon project will definitely be continued. The pilot project and the cooperation were evaluated positively by both project partners, and also received many positive reactions from outside.

In Flanders there are currently about 120,000 families that use energy-guzzling appliances and live in energy poverty. Various bodies in Flanders and beyond are interested in the project: OCMWs, city authorities in all Flemish provinces, consumer organisations, etc. So there is certainly still work to be done. In 2020, we want to scale up the number of devices to 500 devices spread across Flanders. After that, we hope to be able to grow to 4,000 devices annually.

Besides that, there is concrete interest in Papillon running abroad. There is interest from social entrepreneurs in France, Spain, the United Kingdom, Italy ... People active within the European Commission are also fans of Papillon and promote it as a good practice on numerous forums.

It is Bosch's intention to set up a similar product and service model for people without energy poverty.

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