News

Member Highlights — January 2016

Safe Access to Fuel and Energy (SAFE)

The SAFE Humanitarian Working Group, established by UNHCR along with several other UN agencies and partners, and where the Practitioner Network serves as a steering committee member, is a consortium of humanitarian agencies and NGOs whose mission is to facilitate a more coordinated, predictable, timely, and effective response to the fuel and energy needs of crisis-affected populations. Because of the cross-cutting nature of energy use and access, SAFE seeks to combine improved renewable technologies, alternative fuels, and livelihood and environmental activities to provide emergency support to ensure the safety and well-being of displaced people; help to shift communities towards healthier and more sustainable energy options; reduce exposure to risk of gender-based violence; reduce negative health impacts of household air pollution from solid fuel use; and mitigate environmental degradation to contribute to disaster risk reduction and long-term food security. SAFE played a leading role in coordinating the energy access aspect of the Nepal earthquake response, with a number of Practitioner Network members participating in and reporting on the efforts.

SAFE’s work continues to grow, with the addition of a range of new members in 2015, including The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) (Doctors Without Borders), Chatham House, The Global Village Energy Partnership (GVEP), Lighting Global, World Vision, Food for the Hungry, Cooperazione Internazionale (COOPI) and the World LPG Association (WLPGA). To learn more about the SAFE Humanitarian Working Group, visit here.


BBOXX secures $15m funding for Africa solar ventures and the world’s first securitization of off-grid solar assets

London-based solar systems provider BBOXX  completed a funding round with consortium of investors, including a package that uses securitization as a means of financing solar systems in Africa – a first for the continent. The UK based solar provider has raised $15 million in equity and debt funding from a wide range of investors, including DOEN Foundation, Synergy Energy, Bamboo Finance, Ceniarth, Khosla Impact Fund, and new backers ENGIE Rassembleurs d’Energies and MacKinnon, Bennett & Co. A portion of the funding will be used as scalable working capital, and $500,000 – provided via a securitization deal with social investor Oikocredit – will finance home solar systems in Africa via Distributed Energy Asset Receivables (DEARs), the first such securitization deal of its kind seen in Africa. In closing this securitization, BBOXX will be able to realize income from the solar payment plan sales model that it has introduced in Africa three years ahead of schedule, and help it to scale its approach more quickly.


M-KOPA moving from selling solar energy to selling ‘everything’

For the last four years Kenya-based consumer finance company M-KOPA has enabled 300,000 low-income earners in East Africa to acquire home solar energy systems using its pay-as-you-go model. Now the company is taking a new direction to offer its customers a wider array of products such as bicycles, smartphones, water tanks and cooking stoves. The company has been piloting its new business line for the last six months during which 40,000 add-on products were purchased by its existing customers. The new collection of products is only available for households that have successfully completed the payment plan on their solar systems. They then continue to make daily payments – as if their solar was still on credit – until the new product has been paid off. M-KOPA plans to reach over one million homes by the end of 2017. The company reports connecting solar to 600 new homes each day across Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.


SES and SolarKiosk sign agreement to bring internet to underserved villages worldwide

SES Techcom Services, a wholly-owned subsidiary of leading satellite operator SES, and SOLARKIOSK AG, have announced that they have entered into a two-year partnership to deliver high-quality connectivity to communities worldwide. Under the agreement, SOLARKIOSK will use satellite connectivity to provide Internet access to underserved areas, initially in Africa. This will be done via SOLARKIOSK’s E-HUB structures – designed by the Berlin-based architecture firm Graft – which use solar technology to provide electricity to all systems, including the satellite dish, to enable a wide range of connectivity services to the local community. The partnership between SES Techcom Services and SOLARKIOSK is the first of many steps to deliver off-grid, connected solar infrastructure solutions for communities worldwide, targeting individual users, businesses, schools, medical centres and farms. It enables SES and SOLARKIOSK to provide fast Internet access in regions lacking reliable connectivity options.


SELCO: Electrifying India, With the Sun and Small Loans

As a pioneering company – and now the leader – in offering solar home systems to India’s 300 million people lacking access to electricity, SELCO strives to find innovative financing solutions to increase the affordability of clean energy access. From pay-as-you-go to loan programs, such as Joint Liability Groups, catered to communities which would not otherwise quality for a bank loan, SELCO is working with banks and villages to deliver empowering, community-driven solutions across India.


Safaricom Limited and KCB Foundation Join Acumen in Supporting East Africa’s Emerging Social Leaders

Safaricom Limited and the KCB Foundation have partnered with Acumen to advance the Acumen East Africa Fellowship, a leadership development program to equip emerging social leaders in East Africa with the skills, knowledge and moral imagination to drive social change in their communities. They have jointly committed $1 million to Acumen as part of a three-year partnership. Launched in 2012 with the support of KCB Foundation, Acumen’s East Africa Fellows Program is designed to build the next generation of social leaders “with the audacity to transform society and create a better, more inclusive world.”  To learn more about Acumen’s Regional Fellows program, visit here.


Practitioner Network members shortlisted for PACESetter Fund’s first round of selections

The results from the first round of the Indo-U.S PACESetter Fund are now available on their website. The mission of the PACEsetter Fund is to accelerate the commercialization of innovative off-grid clean energy access solutions by providing early-stage grant funding to allow businesses to develop and test innovative products, business models and systems. The Fund’s main purpose is to improve the viability of off-grid renewable energy businesses that sell “small-scale” (up to 1 Megawatt) clean energy systems to communities and individuals without access to grid-connected power or with limited/intermittent access. Congratulations to Practitioner Network members Mera Gao Power and BioLite for being shortlisted for the next round.


Boond, India seeking input on new micro-grid project

Boond is in the process of designing High Voltage DC Micro-grids (96Vdc transmission). They will be setting up grids for up to 40 households with maximum transmission length of about 1km. Transmission current will be less than 2 Amps. For feedback and to know more about the project please contact:
Mr. Simran Grover- simran@boond.net.


The Household Energy Network (HEDON) is holding a photo competition on the theme of “Energy in Emergency Settings”

The winning photo will be featured on the cover of the next issue of Boiling Point, a practitioner’s journal for those working with household energy and cookstoves. The deadline for submitting photos is February 14, 2016. Learn more about the competition here.


The Ground_Up Project plans to launch new online tool

The second version of the Ground_Up platform was launched with a Value Compass tool that allows investors to analyze and benchmark project performance. The platform attracted over 300 new users and 100 projects in 2015, having been successfully beta tested with a number of members of the practitioner network. Key partnerships, social media, and research give The Ground_Up Project access to a universe of 3,000+ green businesses around the world. 2016 plans include the launch of a new online tool to create and analyze portfolios of green businesses. To learn more, visit their website.


Livelyhoods Working With New Funding Partner

LivelyHoods, an organization training and hiring unemployed  youth and women drawn from slum communities in Kenya to sell environmentally friendly and socially transformative products in their communities, has been selected to receive financing from the Unreasonable Institute‘s Girl Effect Revolving Loan Fund. This fund was made possible with a grant by the Nike Foundation and aims to nurture financially viable market-based solutions that benefit girls in poverty.