Newsletter - October 2014
Towards Achieving Universal Energy Access by 2030

Richenda's Message

Dear Friends,

The Energy Access Practitioner Network has had a very busy past month.

In the midst of the UN general Assembly in New York and the special Climate Summit convened by UN Secretary- General, we kicked off the September meetings with a stakeholder engagement for the Sustainable Energy for All Energy for Women and Children's Health initiative, giving key stakeholders an opportunity to provide their feedback on the way forward for this High Impact Opportunity focusing on health clinic electrification. Participants included a number of Practitioner Network members, and the group focused on strategies to address issues around energy efficient medical devices; innovative energy solutions for mobile health workers serving remote locations; remote monitoring of energy systems in health clinics. We invite you to join us in this work.

This was followed by a workshop co-hosted with the US Government's Power Africa 'Beyond the Grid' initiative, immediately following the announcement of an MOU signed between the Sustainable Energy for All initiative and Power Africa two days earlier. In his keynote remarks, Dr. Kandeh Yumkella emphasized the importance of such partnerships and the role of Practitioner Network members in moving the needle on the initiative's energy access goal.

Our conference on commercially viable mini-grids, jointly organized with USAID, the World Bank, and US State Department brought together more than 150 people to delve into the recent interest around, successful examples of, and remaining barriers to scaling commercial mini-grid companies and projects. The sessions also served as a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs to meet investors in the sector – something the Practitioner Network supports whenever possible.

We now turn our attention to the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties in Lima, Peru in December – be on the lookout for our upcoming webinar that will focus on energy access issues in the region.

richenda sign 2

Richenda Van Leeuwen Executive Director, Energy Access,
United Nations Foundation.

Member Announcements


  • SolarNow raises two million Euros from Novastar Ventures and Acumen Fund
    SolarNow, a company that provides a range of modular 50-500W solar home systems and DC appliances, primarily to customers in rural Uganda, has closed an equity funding round with Novastar Ventures and Acumen.

    The funding will help SolarNow lay the groundwork for their renewable energy asset finance and distribution in East Africa. With the investment, SolarNow hopes to expand its branch network, upgrade its Management Information System, and invest in research and development.

    In a press release, Andrew Carruthers of Novastar Ventures said, "We are impressed by SolarNow's well-developed distribution network as well as the quality of equipment and service they provide. They raise the bar for low-income customers in terms of affordability, reliability and service guarantees. We look forward to working with them to scale rapidly into this poorly served market."

  • Bringing light to the children of Surkhet, Nepal

    kopilla valley childrens home

    SunFarmer is teaming up with communities in Surkhet, Nepal, to install a 4kW solar system for the Kopilla Valley Center, home to 44 vulnerable children that also houses a school for 350 students.

    In addition to providing education, health care, and food to the children, the Center, located in one of Nepal's poorest regions, also provides job training and employment opportunities to the children's mothers.

    Kopilla Valley's remote location makes off-grid renewable energy an ideal solution for lighting the children's home and the school, also allowing it to operate fans, charge phones, power computers and kitchen equipment. You can learn more about the partnership with Kopilla Valley and donate here.

  • Buksh Foundation partners with the Dutch government
    Buksh Foundation has signed an agreement with the Netherlands Embassy to build and strengthen a long-term collaboration for the provision of renewable energy solutions to marginalized communities in remote areas in seven villages of Bahawalpur district, Pakistan.
    The agreement aims to strengthen outreach to off-grid communities in Pakistan through the Lighting a Million Lives (LaML) project, this new agreement will build onto the existing initiative through working with an additional seven female entrepreneurs (Light Ladies), create 14 technical enterprises and benefit over 5,000 people.

  • Practitioners honored at SEED Awards
    The 2014 SEED Awards Africa Symposium honored 41 enterprises working towards sustainable development in emerging economies. Congratulations to the winning enterprises which included Practitioner Network members Frontier Markets, Switch ON-ONergy, JITA Social Business Bangladesh Ltd., Green Heat (U) Ltd, and Electricity4all.


Featured Member

LivelyHoods: Creating renewable energy jobs, supporting youth development

LivelyHoods creates job opportunities for youth in urban slums so they can work their way out of poverty and actualize their potential by selling life-changing, green energy products in their communities.

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LivelyHoods enables youth in Kenya's slums distribute clean energy products that help improve public health. Photo: LivelyHoods

Many urban Kenyans – for example, an estimated 60 per cent of Nairobi's population – live in slums and use open-fire biomass stoves to cook their meals, which has a negative impact on the environment and public health. Carbon dioxide emissions contribute to global climate change and the collection of wood for fuel is depleting Kenya's forests. In a report back of a 2008 health survey of Nairobi's slums, pneumonia was found to be the number one cause of premature mortality for children under five[1], an indicator of the high levels of pollution from use of fossil fuels.

Due to market failure and inadequate distribution channels, slum residents did not have easy access to clean lighting and cooking technologies that improve health, save money and are better for the environment. To overcome this barrier, LivelyHoods operates a distribution network for solar lights, clean-burning cook stoves and other life-improving products. The branded retail network consists of customer service centers and uniformed sales representatives, covering the hard-to-reach households and building the optimal customer service experience for Kenya's bottom of the pyramid population.

Although LivelyHoods is a nonprofit company, it operates with the philosophy of an entrepreneurial start-up to ensure the sustainability of the program. To date, LivelyHoods has employed over 300 women and youth, and brought access to cleaner energy to thousands of customers throughout Nairobi's slums.

To learn more about LivelyHoods go to, or email Tania Laden at

[1] Kyobutungi, C., Ziraba, K.A., Ezeh, A., & Ye, Y. (2008) The Burden of Disease Profile of Residents of Nairobi's slums: Results from a Demographic Surveillance System. Population Health Metrics, 6:1. Retrieved from

Funding Opportunities

Closing Soon: Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves pilot innovation fund (PIF)

Due October 31, 2014, 6pm EST. The PIF is a grant facility that aims to provide funding and capacity development assistance to organizations and entrepreneurs to pilot game-changing ideas for the clean cooking sector through technological or business model innovation. Technology innovations include (but are not limited to) new developments in cookstoves, fuels, or other improved cooking solutions. Business model innovations include (but are not limited to) payment mechanisms, distribution, and supply chain models.

Target projects supported by PIF will:

1) Seek to develop, pilot and/or market test new, innovative and game-changing technologies and/or business models

2) Contribute to strengthening supply and demand for clean cookstoves and fuels in local and global markets

3) Have a robust plan for commercial viability and scale over the long-term.

The PIF will award grants of up to USD 150,000 to at least five qualifying organizations. Selected projects will have a 12-month timeframe from the disbursement of the grant to meet clear objectives and performance milestones. If you have any problems accessing the application materials please send an e-mail to
Read More.

Earth Care Awards 2015

Deadline November 30, 2014. The Earth Care Award seeks to recognize and foster actions and innovations for climate change mitigation and adaptation by communities, entrepreneurs, large scale industries and small and medium scale industries. The 2015 edition of the Awards is open to SAARC countries - Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

The Award identifies initiatives with demonstrated actions that contribute to mitigation and adaptation to climate change. The Award recognizes locally derived mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect land and water resources and scale up innovations for increasing energy efficiency, and focuses on four action areas:

1. Communities: Climate Change Adaptation - Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry, and Water Resources
2. Innovation for Climate Protection
3. GHG Mitigation in Large Scale Enterprises
4. Energy Efficiency and Emission Reduction in Small & Medium Scale Enterprises

Further information on application forms and process can be found here and here. For more information you can also e-mail or 

GSMA announces new funding and scope for rebranded Mobile for Development Utilities Programme

GSMA and DFID announced that an additional £6 million in funding has been provided by DFID to extend GSMA's work to improve energy, water and sanitation as part of its newly branded Mobile for Development Utilities program. The program builds on the early success of the first phase of the program under the Mobile Enabled Community Services (MECS) banner, through which 13 grants were awarded across 11 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Developing Asia. If you wish to be informed when the details of the Innovation Fund are released and how to apply, please register your interest here.



A three-day workshop on the development of policy and regulatory frameworks for the small and medium-scale biogas sector in Asia. Read announcement.

The Forum is organized by the Government of Tunisia, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), and the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

The Forum will emphasize attaining the three objectives of the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) Initiative through a regional agenda. Participation in the Forum is open to Government officials, project developers and owners, representatives of international organizations, private sector, financial institutions, NGOs, academia and other experts involved in sustainable energy issues.
Cookstoves Future Summit
November 20-21, 2014, New York 

The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves will host the first ministerial- and CEO-level Cookstoves Future Summit: Fueling Markets, Catalyzing Action, Changing Lives in New York City, November 20-21, 2014. The Summit marks an important opportunity in the Alliance's efforts to prevent the more than 4 million deaths that occur every year from household air pollution caused by smoke from the use of open fires and traditional cookstoves.

The Microenergy Systems Research Group at the Technische Universität Berlin, the BMS College of Engineering in Bangalore and the Berkeley Rural Energy Group at UC Berkeley, California, will jointly organize the MES 2015 Conference, an interdisciplinary and interactive forum for academics and experts to discuss the latest research and current trends in the field of decentralized energy supply.

The conference will take place in Bangalore, India, on April, 23-25 2015. Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri (Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC and head of TERI, The Energy and Resources Institute) will be the keynote speaker.

Other Upcoming Events


Monthly News Clips

August marked a serious escalation in the Ebola outbreak. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over forty percent of all cases reported since the start of the outbreak, in January 2014, were reported in August. The international community now faces an urgent Need to address the critical gap in both human resources and infrastructure, which impede the prevention and containment of Ebola.

Rural Energy Access: The case for renewable energy mini-grids - Huffington Post
Given that a majority of the 1.4 billion people without electricity live in rural, dispersed communities, it would be wise for the international development community to mobilize energy access strategies that reflect this reality by supporting off-grid renewable energy.

Beyond Lighting Global: World Bank Group Energy Lending Focuses on Poorest Regions - World Bank Group
Out of an almost record lending total of $9.445 billion, over two-thirds of the World Bank Group's energy financing for FY14 was concentrated in regions facing the largest energy deficits – Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. It was also another very strong year for Bank Group renewable energy financing with a total of $3.6 billion in investments.

The Scalability of Off-Grid Renewable Energy FirmsSun Connect
The market is presently very favorable for decentralized renewable energy products to electrify rural India. The market is now approaching a point where the cost of fossil fuels being used to power homes is on par (or already exceed) equivalent renewable energy products. Further, the market is shifting from a product-centric to a service-centric approach to providing decentralized renewable energy.

New Energy Access Reports

A Guide to the Light Library Model: Lessons, results & recommendations from the field, SenegalSunnyMoney
The Light Library is a new model designed and delivered by SolarAid's social enterprise SunnyMoney, in partnership with the Senegalese Rural Electrification Agency (ASER), the Ministry of Education and the World Bank. There was a strong research and evaluation component to the project, including baseline market studies, baseline customer interviews and follow up parent and head-teacher interviews. Nearly 5,000 solar lights were procured for the project, 58 schools were selected and an estimated 55,000 people have directly benefited from solar lights.

Access to Energy via Digital Finance: Models for Innovation, CGAP
This paper by CGAP provides an overview of the digitally financed energy access sector, highlighting advancements in business models and product offerings. The focus is on businesses deploying pay-as-you-go (PAYG) solar photovoltaic (PV) products using digitized payments and unique hardware to control the use of energy services. While there are experiences combining digital finance with a wide range of energy technologies, PAYG solar PV products have by far the most market traction in terms of total units sold, amount of time deployed, and number of countries with active sales.


New Practitioner Network Members

The Practitioner Network now has over 1,800 members. Welcome to the following:

AOT Consulting (U) / (Uganda)
Arnergy / (Nigeria)
Centre for Environmental Action and Development (CEAD) / Nepal
Community Energy Scotland / (Scotland)
Empower Generation / (Nepal)
Global Solace Inc. / (Haiti, Tanzania, South Africa, US)
Gridless Power / (US,)
Jiro-Ve / (Madagascar)
Last Mile 4D / (US)
SHINE / (Burundi)
Solaris Energy Systems Ltd / (Ireland, Europe, Africa)
Solesa / (Italy, Europe)
Suntribute / (Israel)
Winrock International / (Global)