1. What is Sw.eLL’s goal?
Give residents of Swarthmore the option to create and/or hire a lawn care company that operates battery-powered equipment.
If you are a resident who uses, or wants to hire a lawn care provider, Sw.eLL helps create a new battery operated service and gives you an option to switch out of gas powered equipment.
If you are resident who does not plan to use a lawn service provider, Sw.eLL enables lawn services transition from gas to electric and allows you to experience a quieter and cleaner community.
2. Can you point me to resources that show how electric lawn equipment is better than gas power equipment?
Battery-powered lawn care will result in a quieter, healthier, and more nature-friendly environment. Here are some links to learn more, including the statistics referred to on the Sw.eLL home page:
A. Studies and statistics
B. Youtubers comparing and sharing experiences of gas vs. electric lawn equipment
C. Lawn care and companies going 100% electric:
D: Articles on regulations and bans on gas powered lawn equipment
3. Can having just 1 lawn-care company change the environment in Swarthmore?
Yes, for 3 reasons
- The first battery-powered lawn care company can serve a large number of households in Swarthmore.
- The first lawn care company will be proof of the viability of electric lawn care service and will result in more commercial companies entering the market.
- There will be more demand from residents for all electric lawn care when they see and hear electric services being offered to their neighbors in the community.
4. Why are there no electric lawn care companies already?
- There are, just not in Swarthmore.
- The cost of buying new equipment, especially when the company may be already paying off loans for equipment you purchased in the not-so-distant past.
- Concerns about how well electric equipment can support heavy workloads compared to the tried and tested gas equipment.
- Concerns about the downtime needed to charge batteries.
- The familiarity and continuity offered by gas equipment.
5. How will Sw.eLL bring an electric lawn care company to Swarthmore?
- Sw.eLL offers a 0% interest loan to the lawn care company. This allows the lawn care company to buy equipment without worrying about getting a bank loan or the interest rates associated with one.
- We believe a significant proportion of the residents who help raise the funding will also be likely to use the new lawn care services creating a ready customer base for the new equipment.
6. Is Sw.eLL an electric lawn service company?
- No. Sw.eLL is a volunteer project to gather funds from the community to provide a loan to a small business lawn care company.
7. How much money is Sw.eLL raising, from how many people?
- Sw.eLL’s goal is to raise $30,000.
- If every household loans $300, just a hundred households will be enough to raise the sum.
8. Will I get my money back?
- The loan to A Few Steps, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is unsecured, i.e., there is no collateral against each loan. The loan aFewSteps provides with to the lawn care company is secured by the equipment purchased with the loan. aFewSteps will collect payments from the lawn care company over time and pay you back at the end of the term of the loan.
9. When will the electric lawn care service be available?
- We are expecting to be able to provide a loan to a lawn company by the fall of 2023. So Services may start by the fall “blowing” season or if delayed, by the spring “mowing” season.
10. When will I get my money back?
- All loans are repayable by end of 2028. To keep costs low and to keep it simple, the loan will be repayed to you in 1 payment at the end of 2028. Sw.eLL is a volunteer nonprofit and we want to keep our costs as close to zero as possible. The per-loan cost of administrating a large number of very small $ loans can be significant. There is also some uncertainty about when a lawn company will be able to repay the loan. Hence the single end-of-term payment.
11. Will I get any money back if the lawn company defaults on the loan given to them by Sw.eLL?
- We will repay pro-rata, i.e., proportionate to the money you put in, whatever money has been collected from the lawn company until default.
12. Can I fund the loan program via check instead of electronically through PayPal?
- Yes. You may send your loan amount via check made out to aFewSteps.org, mail to P.O.Box 330, Wallingford, PA 19086-0330. You will need to print the loan document and send in the completed form with your check.
13. Can I make a donation instead of a loan?
- Yes, you can click here to donate to the Sw.ell Program. Please add in the comments that the donation is designated to Sw.eLL. You can also write a check to aFewSteps and designate it in the memo section to Sw.eLL.
14. Do I need to change my lawn care company if I donate to Sw.eLL?
- No. There is no connection between the lawn care service you choose in the future and your decision to contribute to Sw.eLL.
- Sw.eLL will provide your name and address to the electric lawn care company as a possible prospect that they could reach out to.
15. What should I do if I do not like the services offered by the lawn care company that Sw.eLL chooses to fund?
- You can switch to another lawn care company (gas or electric).
16. Can I support Sw.eLL if I don’t use a commercial lawn care company?
- Yes , anyone can contribute to Sw.eLL.
17. Is Sw.eLL a nonprofit?
- Yes, we are a volunteer project sponsored by aFewSteps - afewsteps.org.
18. How is Sw.eLL connected to A Few Steps?
- Sw.eLL is a project. aFewSteps is the nonprofit legal entity responsible for the project. Vibhat Nair and John Lock, residents of Swarthmore are the 2 volunteer principals managing Sw.eLL.
19. How will the lawn care company be chosen?
Sw.eLL's principals will select the lawn care company with counsel from the board of aFewSteps. The main criteria that will go into the selection of the lawn care company are:
- Their alignment and commitment to mission to transition off gas for the long-term.
- Their level of presence in Swarthmore, i.e., the # of households they already serve- our goal is to minimize disruption to existing businesses by bringing in a new company. That said, if no lawn care companies currently serving Swarthmore step up, we are open to funding outside companies.
- Their business financials, especially our judgement on their ability to pay back the loan
20. What will be the terms of the loan to the lawn company
The loan company will be charged 0% interest and the loan will be a secure loan with at least the equipment being purchased with the loaned money held as collateral. The other terms of the loan such as repayment frequency and timing will be adjusted based on our the needs and capacity of the service provider to whom we make the loan.
21. Has the EAC- the Environmental Advisory Council of Swarthmore been consulted on this effort?
Yes, We have had multiple meeting with the EAC and their feedback has been incorporated.
22. I'm a lawn care company interested in the loan for the electric lawn equipment. Who can I contact?
- Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org