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Power Africa’s Beyond the Grid: Increasing Access through Small- Scale Energy Solutions
More than 240 million people live without electricity in rural and peri-urban communities across the six Power Africa focus countries. Recognizing that Power Africa cannot achieve energy access goals through the use of large grid extension projects alone, the U.S. Government has recently launched a new framework focused exclusively on unlocking investment and growth for off-grid and small-scale energy solutions on the African continent.
Known as "Beyond the Grid", this new Power Africa sub-initiative leverages Power Africa's innovative transaction-focused model to galvanize further collaboration, engage in critical actions to accelerate transactions, and drive systemic reforms to facilitate future investment specifically relating to off-grid and small-scale energy solutions.
Beyond the Grid has been developed in close collaboration with investors, practitioners, and donors. This new sub-initiative strives to create an effective enabling environment, as well as increase access to finance and technical assistance in order to address some of the recurring constraints in the small scale-energy space.
Over a five year period, Beyond the Grid will partner with over 36 investors and practitioners that have committed to invest over $1 billion into off-grid and small-scale solutions to this underserved market. These private sector commitments will be significant in helping Power Africa meet and exceed its objective to provide access to 20 million new connections for households and commercial entities.
Acumen's mission is to change the way the world tackles poverty by investing in companies, leaders, and ideas. Acumen raises charitable donations to make debt or equity investments in business models that deliver critical goods and services to the world's poor. Since 2001, Acumen has invested $88 million in 82 companies providing agricultural inputs, quality education, clean energy, healthcare services, formal housing, safe drinking water, and sanitation services to low-income customers in India, Pakistan, East Africa, West Africa, and Latin America. To date, Acumen's investments have impacted over 120 million lives. Acumen is building a global community of emerging leaders with the financial and operational expertise and the moral imagination to build a more inclusive world, and we are committed to learning at the edge and sharing ideas insights from our work.
Azuri Technologies is a UK based commercial provider of PayGo solar lighting to rural off-grid communities in over 10 countries across sub Saharan Africa. By combining mobile and solar technology, customers can pay for their solar home system on a PayGo basis as they use it, just like they pay for their phones and kerosene. Over the course of typically 18 months, the purchase of scratchcards allows the system to be paid off and the customer can choose to either unlock their Azuri system forever or upgrade to a larger model.
Bamboo Finance is a commercial private equity firm specializing in investing in business models that benefit low-income communities in emerging markets. Bamboo Finance manages $250 million, representing two global funds and a combined portfolio of 46 investments across 30 countries. Bamboo has a track record of demonstrated commercial returns, and a portfolio of investments that have provided services to over 16 million clients and created more than 20,000 jobs.
BBOXX is a London based company that designs, manufactures, distributes and finances off-grid solar systems across the developing world. We operate in over 14 countries mainly in Africa and have sold over 40,000 systems since our inception in 2010. We provide end-customer financing solutions across our distribution networks to overcome the main barrier to mass market absorption which is the financial access to make solar systems competitive with existing carbon based energy solutions. We have developed the required hardware and IT systems to monitor and pro-actively manage our solar systems in the field over the long term."
Beyond Capital Fund
Beyond Capital Fund ("BCF") is an impact investment fund that promotes economic development in impoverished communities through our investments. Our focus is in the water, waste and sanitation, healthcare and energy sectors in India and East Africa. We are registered as a public charity. By addressing the lack of seed capital for social businesses, we specialize in providing early-stage financial investment along with management assistance, mentoring and expert advisory services. With our rigorous investment process, our aim is to achieve sustainability and scaled social impact for businesses that operate for the advancement of the population at the base of the economic pyramid.
Capricorn Investment Group
Over the next several years, as part of its commitment to Power Africa under Beyond the Grid, Capricorn intends to: advance the Beyond the Grid goal of providing access to clean, reliable energy, to invest in companies providing solar power, hybrid power systems, mini-grid installations, energy storage systems, and mini-hydro power systems, increasing energy access for communities currently lacking reliable power.
CrossBoundary LLC is a frontier market investment firm. Our mission is to unlock the power of private capital to impact underserved markets. The firm has broad experience providing opportunity sourcing, due diligence, transaction advisory and investment expertise in sub-Saharan Africa. We work with investors to navigate unconventional markets, support frontier market companies to identify and raise capital and advise policy makers on investment climate reform.
Founded in 2006 as a for-profit social enterprise, d.light manufactures and distributes solar lighting and power products designed to serve the more than 2 billion people globally without access to reliable electricity. Through over a dozen field offices and four distribution hubs in Africa, China, South Asia and the United States, d.light has sold over 6 million solar light and power products in 62 countries, improving the lives of more than 30 million people.
The Eleos Foundation
The Eleos Foundation strives to improve millions of lives by investing in pioneering business solutions to poverty. At Eleos, we believe that sustainable market-based solutions will be the most effective way to eradicate extreme poverty. From affordable education in India, to sanitation in the slums of Kenya, we're committed to innovative entrepreneurs solving tough problems. We aim to bridge the "Pioneer Gap" by providing entrepreneurs with the early-stage capital and advisory support needed to take their business from a pilot to a proven model, ready to scale.
GVEP International (Global Village Energy Partnership)
GVEP International (Global Village Energy Partnership) is a non-profit organization which supports access to energy through private sector development. With a headcount of more than 80, our primarily locally-based professionals advise entrepreneurs on business and project development, and access to commercial and concessional capital. We incubate and provide strategic, operational, technical, and financial support to early-stage energy businesses which employ technologies including energy efficient cookstoves and briquettes, solar lighting and home systems, biogas, and mini-grid electrification. We also publish selected market research, conduct market feasibility studies, and work closely alongside capital providers including equity investors, financial institutions and donors. Over the past 3 years, we have leveraged in excess of $38 million of donor funding to provide both grant capital and technical assistance to a wide range of energy businesses in Africa and Latin America. By 2016, we aim to have enabled new or improved access to reliable energy for 15 million people.
Embark is a leading social enterprise working at the intersection of clean energy, enterprise development and local entrepreneurship in Africa. They are using an innovative approach that offers high quality business training, mentoring and links to finance to motivated individuals in developing countries so that they can create clean energy businesses and be successful entrepreneurs. Embark is an alternative to traditional development approaches because it is advancing education with a more practical, hands-on curricula delivered using cutting edge tools, real-world examples, and entrepreneur instructors as compared to what is offered in formal school settings and traditional training programs. They have just released the beta version of their new online learning program and business planning tool for aspiring entrepreneurs, called MyBusinessPlan, and a tablet-based app will be released soon.
Energiya Global's mission is to bring solar energy to under-served populations in developing nations. We strive for a triple bottom line, delivering good financial returns to investors in addition to strong socio-economic and environmental returns in developing countries. Our principle focus is on Africa where there is both a compelling humanitarian case, with nearly 600 million lacking access to electricity, and a strong economic argument, based on the large number of countries dependent on expensive diesel fuel for electricity generation. Last month Energiya Global Capital, operating as our Dutch brand Gigawatt Global reached financial close and begun construction on an 8.5 MW solar project in Rwanda, which will provide 8% of Rwanda's generation capacity. This is the first-ever financial close on a utility-scale solar project in East Sub-Saharan Africa.
Founded in 2009, Fenix International is a venture-backed renewable energy company with offices in East Africa and Silicon Valley. With core expertise in power electronics, product design and base-of-the-pyramid marketing, Fenix's mission is to deliver quality of life to the 1.3 billion people who live without power in emerging markets.
Gigawatt Global is a solar energy developer that builds utility scale PV fields in developing nations. Gigawatt Global is active in Rwanda, Nigeria, Burundi, Ghana and South Africa.
Global Off-Grid Lighting Association
Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA) has been established to act as the industry advocate with a focus on small and medium enterprises. It is a neutral, independent, not-for-profit association created to promote lighting solutions that benefit society and businesses in developing and emerging markets. GOGLA will support industry in the market penetration of clean, quality alternative lighting systems. Formed in 2012 as public-private initiative, GOGLA was conceived out of the joint World Bank/IFC effort to provide a sustainable exit strategy for Lighting Africa initiative.
Gray Ghost Ventures
Gray Ghost Ventures is a pioneer of the global impact investing movement and continues to be a vanguard in furthering its expansion according to the vision of it's founder, Bob Pattillo. With the establishment of Gray Ghost Microfinance Fund in 2003, GGV became one of the earliest private investors in microfinance, whose purpose is to eliminate poverty and strengthen communities through investments in small-and-micro businesses in the developing world.
Founded in 2007, Imprint Capital is a registered investment advisor that builds and manages portfolios of impact investments for foundations, families, and financial institutions. As of May 31, 2014, the firm had more than 35 client relationships and $400 million in assets under advisement. In its seven-year history, Imprint has worked with its clients to make more than 120 investments across asset classes, geographies, and impact themes as diverse as education, health care, food and agriculture, energy and the environment, and the economic development of low wealth communities. The firm has offices in San Francisco and New York.
Invested Development (ID) is an impact investment fund manager focused on risk capital investments in seed to early stage startups enabling remote connectivity, precision agriculture, and distributed energy in underserved markets.
Khosla Impact's mission is to assist great entrepreneurs developing products and services that improve human productivity for the three billion people in the bottom half of the world economy. We invest in world-class entrepreneurs who are passionate about solving challenging socio-economic problems through careful application of science, technology, design and distribution, or through creative business models. We believe in experimentation and encourage this approach among our entrepreneurs. We evaluate a wide range of opportunities but are primarily focused on for-profit enterprises serving people in the bottom half of the world economy: low-income laborers, farmers and families, as well as small businesses in emerging markets.
Kiva is the world's first and largest crowdfunding platform for social good with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. With as little as a $25 loan, anyone can help a borrower start or grow a business, go to school, access clean energy and realize their potential. Since 2005, Kiva and their growing global community of 1.2 million lenders have crowdfunded more than $575 million in microloans to over 1.3 million entrepreneurs in 75 countries, with a 98% repayment rate.
Little Sun puts the power of the sun in the palm of your hand - creating safe, convenient, sustainable light you can take with you wherever you go. Little Sun is much more than a lamp - it's a global project and social business that is connecting the world through sharing light. Artist Olafur Eliasson and engineer Frederik Ottesen developed the Little Sun solar-powered lamp to get clean, reliable, affordable light to the 1.2 billion people living without electricity in areas known as 'off -grid' areas. Little Sun currently has distribution in eight African countries as well as in Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia, and Japan. Launched in July 2012 at London's Tate Modern, the Little Sun project has since distributed over 165,000 Little Sun lamps worldwide - and that number is quickly growing. Little Sun's unique combination of beautiful design and exceptional engineering has made the lamp popular across the globe, and people are discovering just how useful the lamp is also in areas with electricity. The lamp is a fun, accessible tool educating people all over the world about the benefits of solar power and sustainable sources of energy. Learn more about the project, buy a lamp (US, Europe, gobal), and support the cause at www.littlesun.com
LGT Venture Philanthropy
LGT Venture Philanthropy (LGT VP) is an impact investor supporting organizations with outstanding social and environmental impact. Our local teams in six world regions strive to increase the sustainable quality of life of less advantaged people by inspiring clients for active philanthropy, providing individualized philanthropic advice and investment implementation. By applying private equity/ venture capital principles we help our portfolio organizations to grow and scale their impact with tailored financing, management know-how and relevant networks. LGT VP is currently managing 29 organizations. Through these engagements LGT VP has invested more than USD 19m to improve the sustainable quality of life of over four million less advantaged people since inception in 2007. Our broad range of individual and institutional clients benefits from our experience, systems, processes and networks built by implementing the philanthropic engagement of LGT VP's founder: the Princely Family of Liechtenstein/LGT Group.
Liberian Energy Network
Since 2010 Liberian Energy Network (LEN) has been using a shared value approach to achieve a rapid deployment of solar energy in Liberia. LEN's business model is built upon high volume low margin sales to customers at the Base of the Pyramid. In addition to working with individuals and the Liberian government, LEN is building a network of civil society organizations which are operating successfully throughout Liberia. While structured as a non-profit corporation in Liberia and the US, LEN acts like a for-profit business, selling small scale solar lights and phone chargers approved by the World Bank Lighting Africa program at a price point to cover its costs, allowing LEN to push as much value as possible into the hands of Liberians.
The Low Carbon Enterprise Fund
The Low Carbon Enterprise Fund ("LCEF"), a global program of the ERM Foundation, provides finance and professional support for low carbon entrepreneurs in disadvantaged areas. The fund portfolio includes early stage companies in Africa, India, Southeast Asia and Latin America that provide communities with clean energy products such as solar, wind, fuel efficient cooking stoves, biogas, pico hydro, and microgrids. The Fund's financial investment and technical support helps small businesses bring affordable, low carbon products and services to some of the world's poorest and usually off-grid communities - reducing dependency on kerosene, firewood and other unsustainable sources of energy. In addition to having a clear low carbon objective, the businesses we support provide tangible social and economic benefits to the communities in which they operate including access to affordable energy, improving health conditions and the creation of forest-friendly livelihoods. The LCEF is able to draw upon the expertise of ERM's global network of consultants to provide technical and management support to these ventures through pro-bono consultancy time contributed by the company as part of its commitment to sustainability initiatives.
Mobisol delivers a clean, affordable alternative to fossil fuels for low-income households living without reliable access to energy. The Berlin-based company combines solar energy with mobile technology, microfinance and comprehensive customer service to provide high-tech solar home systems (SHS's) powerful enough to electrify whole households and small businesses in developing nations. Using mobile banking services the cost can be paid off conveniently via mobile phone in a 36-month instalment plan. Mobisol SHS's come complete with a three-year warranty for the battery and twenty years for the panel, remote monitoring of each system and a full service package including free maintenance for three years. So far, Mobisol has installed over 5,000 SHS's in Tanzania, Kenya and Rwanda.
Mosaic is an online platform that crowd sources financing for solar projects. Since its launch in 2013, Mosaic has funded $8M in 20 different solar projects across the United States, allowing over 3,000 investors to earn a return on the transition to clean energy. The company is now working to launch its international loan program
Off Grid Electric
Off Grid Electric works to provide affordable, reliable light and energy services (M-POWER) to individuals and communities who suffer from an expensive grid, an unreliable grid, or have no grid access at all. The company delivers a complete technical, operational and financial model that makes high-quality renewable energy services available to anyone, anywhere. It offers solar as a service, an innovative approach whereby customers pre-pay for electrical services using mobile money. It currently operates in Tanzania and plans to expand to further East Africa countries within the next few years.
Persistent Energy Partners
Persistent Energy Partners (PEP) is an investor, incubator and advisor to businesses providing clean energy to off-grid customers in sub-Saharan Africa. PEP was formed in 2012 to develop businesses providing energy access in Sub-Sahara by a team of experienced finance and investment professionals. The PEP team came together in 2011 to restructure and preserve the mission of E+Co, a clean energy investor founded by the Rockefeller Foundation in 1994.
PowerGen Renewable Energy
PowerGen Renewable Energy is a renewable energy systems installer based in Nairobi, Kenya. PowerGen installs off-grid energy systems for communities and businesses throughout the region, including Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia. PowerGen also builds and operates communal micro-grids which provide grid-quality, pay-as-you-go energy to unelectrified areas. With four years of operational experience in the region, PowerGen offers a high level of technical competency paired with deep local operating knowledge in East Africa.
Powerhive is a global technology company with an objective to provide access to clean, affordable and reliable microgrid electricity to the millions of households and businesses across the globe that lack access. Powerhive has developed the first truly bankable, turnkey project development platform to profitably address the pressing issue of energy access in emerging economies. Powerhive's product suite supports all aspects of microgrid development and operations including: site and customer selection and acquisition, project build and as well as post construction operations and maintenance solutions including: customer pre-paid billing, grid operations and optimization solutions.
responsAbility Investments AG
responsAbility Investments AG is one of the world’s leading independent asset managers specializing in development-related sectors of emerging economies. They comprise the areas of finance, agriculture, energy, healthcare and education. responsAbility provides debt and equity financing to non-listed companies with business models that target the lower-income section of the population and can thus drive economic growth and social progress. responsAbility offers professionally-managed investment solutions to both institutional and private investors.
Founded in 2003, responsAbility currently has USD 2.2 billion of assets under management, which are invested in 500 companies in 90 countries. responsAbility is headquartered in Zurich and has local offices in Paris, Lima, Mumbai and Nairobi. Its shareholders include a broad range of reputable institutions in the Swiss financial market as well as its own employees. responsAbility is registered with the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority FINMA.
As a global specialist in energy management with operations in more than 100 countries, Schneider Electric offers integrated solutions across multiple market segments, including leadership positions in energy and infrastructure, industrial processes, building automation, and data centres/networks, as well as a broad presence in residential applications. Focused on making energy safe, reliable, efficient, productive and green, the company's 150,000 plus employees achieved sales of 24 billion euros in 2013, through an active commitment to help individuals and organizations "Make the most of their energy." Schneider Electric has local offices in 16 African countries, namely in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, and Tanzania, as well as remote operations and local partnerships all across Africa, including Liberia and Ethiopia.
Shell Foundation is an independent charity established by the Shell Group in 2000 to create and scale new solutions to global development challenges. The Foundation works with a small number of entrepreneurial partners to identify the market failures that underpin social and environmental issues and co-create new social enterprises to solve them - providing patient grant funding, business support and access to networks to help early-stage pioneers to innovate, achieve financial independence and expand across geographies. By applying this approach to major global challenges such as access to energy, job creation and urban mobility, Shell Foundation has created several strategic partners that are now delivering large-scale impact in multiple countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Solar Sister is an award winning social enterprise empowering African women while bringing light, hope and opportunity to their communities through safe, affordable clean energy solutions. Solar Sister is bringing a green energy revolution powered by African women's enterprise. Providing a grassroots solution to a global energy crisis, Solar Sister combines the breakthrough potential of clean energy technology with a deliberately women-centered direct sales network. Working in rural Africa, Solar Sister recruits, trains and supports women to become Solar Sister Entrepreneurs. The women build sustainable businesses selling portable solar lamps, mobile phone chargers and fuel-efficient cookstoves. Using their natural networks of family, friends and neighbors to provide the most effective distribution channel to rural and hard to reach customers the women earn much needed income to support their families and provide a vital service to their communities. Access to clean energy has profound benefits including improved education, health and economic outcomes.
SunFunder is solar finance business based in San Francisco and Arusha that connects investors to high-impact solar projects that improve the lives of low-income communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America. SunFunder's solar investment platform is for both private and crowd investors, and it provides financing to grow solar energy in emerging markets and bring sustainable and clean energy access to people that need it most.
The Tony Elumelu Foundation
Founded in 2010, The Tony Elumelu Foundation is a African-funded philanthropic organisation focused on supporting entrepreneurship in Africa by enhancing the competitiveness of the private sector. The foundation creates impact through business leadership and entrepreneurship development programmes, impact investments; research and policy advocacy.
United Nations Foundation
The United Nations Foundation builds public-private partnerships to address the world's most pressing problems, and broadens support for the United Nations through advocacy and public outreach. Through innovative campaigns and initiatives, the Foundation connects people, ideas, and resources to help the UN solve global problems. The Foundation was created in 1998 as a U.S. public charity by entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner and now is supported by global corporations, foundations, governments, and individuals. For more information, visit www.unfoundation.org.
Virunga Power is Kenya-based company focused on developing, owning, and operating 1 to 10 MW renewable power generation projects for rural distribution across East Africa. We are currently investing in and developing grid-connected mini-hydro, biomass, and solar PV projects with significant rural electrification components. These projects will support our mission of creating a scalable model for utility-style rural electrification projects which are financeable based on the long-term power consumption of rural households.
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Last updated: January 07, 2015