Member Highlights – September 2017

SunCulture Kenya featured among solutions selected for the United Nations’ Solutions Summit 2017

The Solutions Summit is an annual catalytic gathering at United Nations Headquarters in New York during UN General Assembly high-level week in September. This initiative lifts-up and advances the work of exceptional teams already developing innovative solutions that address the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

SunCulture presents at the SDG Media Zone.

Live tweets capturing Samir Ibrahim’s presentation for the Solutions Summit.

This year’s Solutions Summit took place from 19-21 September with in-person accelerator sessions and social media interaction with the selected solution-makers. The Selection Committee agreed a short-list of 35 solutions from 535 applications received, and the Solutions Summit lead organizers selected following 11 extraordinary solution-makers to give a ‘lightning talk’ outlining their breakthrough efforts, including long-time Practitioner Network member SunCulture.

SunCulture’s founder, Samir Ibrahim, presented his system for providing smallholder farmers with solar-powered irrigation on Wednesday, September 20 via livestream from Kenya. He discussed how SunCulture’s one-stop shop offers on-farm training, soil analysis and agronomy support by mobile phone and a Pay-as-you-grow financing program.

For more information, please visit:

SunFunder Brings Working Capital Facility to Global LEAP Off-Grid Appliance Procurement Incentives Program; Global LEAP to host B2B networking event this month

Global LEAP has announced a new partnership with SunFunder in support of the Global LEAP Off-Grid Appliance Procurement Incentives program. SunFunder, an innovative solar finance business that unlocks debt capital for beyond-the-grid solar energy companies in emerging markets, is supporting the program with working capital financing starting at $100,000 for eligible program participants who wish to apply for a loan.

Solar distributors who want to learn more about this exciting new partnership with SunFunder and the incentives program are encouraged to attend the upcoming Global LEAP B2B Networking Event on 28-29 September in Kigali, Rwanda to showcase suppliers of Winning and Finalist TVs and Fans from the 2015-16 and 2016-17 Global LEAP Awards, as well as preliminary finalists in the inaugural Global LEAP Awards Off-Grid Refrigerator Competition. This event will provide a forum for off-grid market stakeholders to meet and explore ways to collaborate and do business, and it will allow interested participants in the Global LEAP Procurement Incentives Program to meet the eligible suppliers.

Registration for the event is free, but space is limited and filling up fast. RSVP online here.

For off-grid solar distributors interested in procuring products through the incentives program, here is a link to the program’s Expression of Interest. Event attendees will get a jump start on participation in the incentive window for TVs and Fans, which opens on 16 October 2017.

MTN partners with Fenix International to launch off-grid solar in Zambia

MTN, Africa’s largest telecoms company, is extending its partnership with energy and financial services firm Fenix International to launch pay-to-own solar home systems in Zambia. The Swedish Embassy in Zambia is committing nearly $3m (SEK 24,750,000) to Fenix in Zambia between now and 2020, with USAID contributing an additional $750,000 to the company.

The launch in Zambia represents the first step in Fenix’s expansion across Africa with their flagship product, ReadyPay Power, which provides off-grid customers access to ultra-affordable solar power. Fenix aims to extend its own proven model for making solar power accessible and affordable, which has doubled the company’s Ugandan customer base in just 12 months. With backing from the Swedish Embassy and USAID, Fenix expects to reach 850,000 rural Zambians by 2020.

Funding from the Embassy of Sweden in Lusaka is provided as part of the Power Africa: Beyond the Grid Fund Zambia (BGFZ) initiative, managed by REEEP. BGFZ aims to bring basic clean energy access to 1 million Zambians and accelerate private sector growth in clean energy generation and distribution in the country. USAID’s additional $750,000 support is provided as part of its Scaling Off-Grid Energy: Grand Challenge for Development, which aims to create up to 20 million new connections in off-grid communities across Africa.

Angaza Design Raises $6.9 Million

Angaza has raised $6.9 million in financing from an undisclosed investor. Angaza offers a complete pay-as-you-go (PAYG) solution to distributors of pico-scale energy products in the off-grid world. The company’s PAYG technology allows businesses to purchase solar lamps and mobile phone chargers over time, in affordable increments, just like they purchase cellular airtime. By removing the upfront price barrier to solar products, Angaza enables its distribution partners to sell widely to energy consumers in emerging economies, vastly expanding their sales and reach.

Japanese Firm Mitsui to Invest $9 Million in OMC Power

Mitsui & Co., a Japanese trading house, is planning to develop small-scale solar projects in India by investing $9.11 million in OMC Power, a rural power company that finances, builds and operates small solar power projects with mini-grid distribution. Mitsui and OMC Power will establish a joint venture to set up solar plus storage projects for factories and warehouses, and small-scale solar projects in regions of India that lack access to electricity or have unreliable power supply.

OMC Power specializes in constructing small solar projects to supply power to telecom base stations. As of now, OMC Power has constructed 75 small solar projects in India. OMC Power independently plans to increase its number of solar systems to 250 by the end of fiscal 2018. Mitsui, through this partnership is targeting construction of 2,000 small-scale solar systems by 2020.

Dulas solar-powered refrigerators save vaccines in Myanmar

Dulas, a British solar refrigeration manufacturer, has completed a training program in Myanmar for Ministry of Health technicians as part of its supply package of its World Health Organization accredited VC200 Solar Direct Drive (SDD) vaccine refrigerators. The program was designed to help healthcare workers learn about the technology of the refrigerators to make sure vaccines are kept at optimum temperatures.

In the last 16 years, Myanmar has invested over $156.5 million in vaccination programs. However, there is a high demand for cold-chain infrastructure to keep the vaccines from overheating and becoming unusable. Some of Myanmar’s locations are too remote to have normal refrigeration techniques. Dulas created a solution that uses off-grid, energy efficient technology using a renewable energy source. The company has supplied Myanmar with 25 VC200 SDD solar powered vaccine refrigerators that will, in the long run, save children’s lives and protect the health of citizens who will have access to immunizations.

The training that healthcare workers received with the solar-powered refrigerators was led by the country’s Ministry of Health to achieve 100% immunization throughout the country. Over a five-day period, the training helped provide an understanding of issues related to SDD technology and vaccine storage. Technicians received first-hand practical experience in the training and experienced all stages required to install and maintain vaccine refrigerators.

First Clean-Cooking TV Show Launched in Kenya by the Alliance

The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (the Alliance) has launched the first-ever clean cooking-focused TV show — a new “edutainment” series in Kenya called Shamba ChefPremiering in September, Shamba Chef will take viewers inside Kenyan homes to watch as families learn how to prepare more nutritious meals while testing out a new stove or fuel that makes cooking “quicker, safer, cleaner, and at half the cost.”

The weekly series will air in both English and Swahili on Citizen TV, Kenya’s most popular TV station, and each episode will be adapted for a weekly radio series. A free mobile based platform called iChef will give subscribers access to additional content, including nutritious recipes and cooking tips.

Learn more and view a trailer for the show here.

ENVenture Now Part of the TRANSFORM Portfolio

ENVenture’s program ‘Incubating clean energy distribution enterprises in the last mile’, was selected as part of the new TRANSFORM portfolio for their a partnership between Unilever and the Department for International Development to support market-based models that meet the needs of low-income households in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. TRANSFORM is supporting ENVenture to formalize its Uganda operations and to test the model with 50 Community Based Organization partners over the course of the project’s duration.

TRINE and Energy4Impact Raise Funds for Pawame in Kenya

Debt crowdfunding platform TRINE is raising funds for a Kenyan renewable energy business. TRINE launched a campaign to fund a loan to Pawame, a solar home system distributor. The €150,000 loan is to finance pay-as-you-go solar home systems from Fosera to provide 6,513 people with electricity.

Practitioner Network members Energy4Impact and Fosera will provide a co-guarantee on the loan, representing 50% of the loan value ($88,500) on a declining balance basis, so the value of the guarantee will reduce as the loan is repaid by the borrower and the 50% guarantee will be applied to the outstanding balance. The guarantee is designed to protect crowdfunding lenders in the case of loan default. The guarantee represents the first of this kind in the off-grid energy space. Energy4Impact is providing the guarantee under the Crowd Power program, established in April 2015 to test different interventions in energy access related crowdfunding.

Pawame has been active in Kenya since May 2016 and raised $50,000 on debt crowdfunding platform Kiva in April 2017, inclusive of $10,000 in match funding from the Crowd Power program. Pawame has grown quickly since entering the Kenyan market last year and has installed 2,000 systems.

Tesla Plants Seed of Solar Power in Low-Income Neighborhoods with Donation of 569kW of Solar Panels to GRID Alternatives

GRID Alternatives recently announced that it has received a massive donation from Tesla Energy of a mix of 569 kW of solar panels that will be installed on the rooftops of low-income homes.

 GRID Alternatives is focused on and has become a national leader in helping low-income communities and communities of color nationwide learn how to integrate solar power while at the same time realizing the employment benefits that come along with it. GRID also works globally to power up off-grid communities across the globe with solar power.

The donation from Tesla also unlocks 15,000 hours of hands-on training through GRID’s community participation training model that guides participants through a solar training curriculum from zero knowledge to installer — with an objective of finding jobs for participants afterward. Tesla’s contribution to GRID is an impressive example of how Tesla is perpetually focused on making as large of an impact as possible on the transition to sustainable energy generation.

 The donation adds Tesla to an impressive list of existing donors to GRID Alternatives including Enphase, SunPower, Jinko Solar, IronRidge, and Schneider Electric. To learn more about GRID Alternatives, visit the GRID Alternatives website.

The Global Himalayan Expedition’s Remote Microgrids in the Himalayas Offer Lessons for the Rest

This year, Global Himalayan Expedition (GHE) continued its success by electrifying Shadé, one of the most remote villages in the Zanskar Valley and perhaps all of India. The team, representing over 13 countries, trekked over 60 miles to reach the village.

While the electrification was impressive in its own right, there are lessons to be drawn for microgrid proponents everywhere. To learn more, please see this article.

The users of the ‘Luz en Casa Amazonia’ pilot project validates the ACCIONA Microenergia Peru’s new electrification model 

In 2015, the ACCIONA Microenergia Foundation started a new electricity service delivery model that is adapted to Amazonian communities, in the Peruvian department of Loreto. It began to be implemented with the ‘Luz en Casa Amazonia’ Pilot Project, which has been co-funded by the National Fund of Scientific, Technological and Technological Innovation Development of Peru.

ACCIONA Microenergia has recently conducted a survey concerning the service brought to the 61 families that have electricity, since February 2016, with the ‘Luz en Casa Amazonia’ Pilot Project. It has shown 100% of families satisfied or very satisfied with the systems, consider it is easy to use it (100%), install it (88%), as well as handle the prepayment (88%). 98% of surveyed people are saving on their monthly expenditure in energy, and 100% of them consider the service given by ACCIONA Microenergia as good and they recommend it.

Other interesting results of that survey, that confirm various positive impacts on the life of the communities a few months after having electricity, are:

  • Households use the provided electric lighting for an average of 6 hours daily.
  • The main uses for that lighting are study (67%), work (43%) and preparation of meals (21%).
  • More hours for children education and adults’ productive activities will result in higher education levels and incomes.
  • Making easier to carry out domestic tasks, users (specially women) can use saved time for other educational, productive, or entertainment activities.
  • Many families have left the use of alternative lighting elements such as torches (79%), oil lamps (30%) and candles (25%).
  • Leaving the use of those elements, which provoke smokes and whose light have not enough intense, eye and lung diseases are reduced.

Little Sun launches its third in the line of solar-powered lamps — little sun diamond

First revealed at this year’s design Indaba conference in Cape Town, the Little Sun Diamond is the smallest Little Sun lamp to date, but packs the same energy of the original. Five hours of charging gives five hours of bright light, which eventually fades to long-lasting soft glow. The object’s muted color scheme, special lens design, and lightweight stand distinguish it from the more colorful classic edition. The lamp’s stand makes it a useful reading or desk light, while removing it and replacing it with lanyard, allows the device to be hung up or worn around the neck.