Innovative Business Model by SunCulture introduces a one-stop-shop for solar-powered irrigation solutions

SunCUlture Rainmaker Sept-1 - Copy

EEP grantee SunCulture  manufactures and finances solar-powered water pumping and irrigation systems for smallholder farmers across Africa. SunCulture’s goal is to provide cheaper and more sustainable way to grow high quality vegetable by replacing expensive and environmentally harmful fuel pumps with efficient solar pumps and by offering a wide range of affordable irrigation solutions.

Very few tailored products for the masses of smallholder farmers are available in Africa, and the lack of access to tools, knowledge and financing keeps the productivity of these farmers low. Besides the pumping and irrigation products, SunCulture supplies installation, soil sampling and other services. SunCulture’s financing platform “Pay-as-You-Grow” aims to close the financing gap which is major barrier for development of the farmers.  Switching from rainfed agriculture to using irrigation system can lead to over ten times higher income for the farmer.


With a range of products SunCulture can easily scale up and down the product ladder to serve customers cultivating a small 1/8 acre plot up to 200 acre farms. SunCulture products are easy to use, maintain and acquire. The cutting-edge pump controller automatically optimizes solar pump’s performance and battery charging based on cloud cover.

According to SunCulture the EEP funding has been catalytic for their success.  With the EEP grant  SunCulture has been able to optimise their business model and reach more than 570 farmers. Read the full Innovative Business Model story here and take a look at the five previously published EEP IBMs.

EEP supports project developers through videos visualizing their achievements

 EEP supports Project Developers by producing a series of videos featuring some of the most interesting EEP funded projects. The videos provide a visualization of the achievements and work by these Project Developers. They can be used to increase the visibility of the project and thus support the Project Developer in marketing and raising interest from potential investors and wider public. All videos are shared through EEP social media channels and they have already reached substantial audiences.


The first EEP video presents a unique project where South African company Mean Sea Level is constructing a 1MW demonstration plant which utilizes wave power to generate electricity. The energy converter is being built in Hermanus, South Africa with support from EEP S&EA and it aims to generate 2,628 MWH/year. It will be Africa’s first commercially viable ocean wave energy converser.

Kitobo videoEEP Project Developer Absolute Energy has constructed a 230kWp solar PV plant on Kitobo Island in Lake Victoria, Uganda. In addition to benefits the households gain from lighting, the improved access to electricity helps the local fishermen to produce ice for storing fish and creates other valuable income opportunities. See from the video how this project has changed the lives of the islanders!


GBE_shotThe EEP Project of the Year 2017  Green Bio Energy is featured in the video which presents GBE employees manufacturing energy-efficient Briketi cookstoves and eco-briquettes in Kampala, Uganda. Enjoy the great vibes at GBE and learn about their important social and environmental impacts!




In this video  you can visit Ugastove – the company behind the first modern cookstove factory in Uganda. With EEP funding Ugastove has optimized its processes in the factory and is expected to produce yearly 240,000 energy-efficient charcoal stoves, woodfire stoves and rocket metal stoves, employing 175 local workers.





EEP’s future host NDF encouraged discussion on blended finance for SDGs, NDCs and energy access at COP23

Leveraging public financing to scale up progress on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) was the theme of a COP23 side event and panel discussion hosted by the Nordic Development Fund (NDF) on Tuesday 14 November in Bonn. Pasi Hellman, NDF’s Managing Director, kicked off the event at the Nordic Pavilion where Nordic finance institutions showcased their work: “We are actively leveraging NDF’s wide array of financing instruments to support delivery of the SDGs and NDCs in our partner countries”.

The conversation was anchored around a presentation of results and vision for the next phase of EEP S&EA as a concrete case study illustrating precisely the role of well targeted donor commitments catalysing private sector engagement on the SDGs and NDCs. The phase III of EEP S&EA will be launched in January 2018 as a multi-donor trust fund under the overall leadership of NDF and fully aligned with the SDGs and NDCs for the countries of the region.

NDF highlighted that EEP has established a strong brand for delivery, impact and effectiveness and committed more than EUR 50 million in direct financing to more than 200 pioneering projects leveraging clean energy technology and innovative energy access business models to transform lives and livelihoods and support the growth of a vibrant green economy in the region. EEP Programme Director Wim Jonker Klunne participated in the events and provided background on the results achieved by EEP. He also highlighted the role of young entrepreneurs within the portfolio and the partnerships formed with other initiatives to advance the sector.

The event was moderated by Charles Wetherill from NDF and brought together representatives from EEP donors MFA Finland and ADA as well as a group of panelists including Sheila Oparaocha from the ENERGIA International Network on Gender and Sustainable Energy (ENERGIA), Mahua Acharya from the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), Monojeet Pal from the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Naeeda Crishna Morgado from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The importance of blended finance arrangements and risk sharing between the public and private sector for scaled-up impact was emphasized by the panelists throughout the event as well as the need for linking youth and women to capital. Wetherill closed the event pointing out the annual USD 2 trillion gap (see OECD report) between actual public financing flows and what developing countries need to achieve the SDGs and commitments from the Paris Climate Agreement. “We quite simply have no choice. To close this gap and achieve these goals, we must blend our financing with other stakeholders.”


Photos: NDF/Joel Sheakoski

EEP Project of the Year Award topped off the Knowledge Exchange Forum in Kampala

More than 90 enthusiastic EEP project developers, investors and other professionals in the field of renewable energy and energy efficiency gathered on 11 October in Kampala to meet peers and exchange new ideas. The 6th EEP Knowledge Exchange Forum was built around inspiring presentations and discussions, encouraging participants to active networking and sharing of experiences. The intense day reached its climax with the announcement of the EEP Project of the Year 2017 Award winner.  

Private sector’s potential must be harnessed effectively


Esther Nyanzi from UNREEEA kicked off the day by speaking about their important mission to improve business environment for renewable energy and energy efficiency companies in Uganda and contribute to sustainable development. After that, the invited keynote speaker, Chairman of Simba Group Patrick Bitature gave a powerful speech about investments in renewable energy in Uganda. Mr. Bitature praised EEP as a true partnership and urged local companies to show their innovations and bravely search for funding opportunities. He also encouraged African and foreign companies to collaborate, in order to facilitate skills transfer. According to his words “Private sector should start with what they have got, fail, get up and start again. We cannot depend on donors forever”.

EEP Grant Manager Fred Eklund shared the current status of the project portfolio, highlighting the excellent results and the life-changing impacts the projects are achieving across sectors, countries and project types. Variety of the projects has proven to be one of the greatest strengths of EEP, making the programme stand out in the region. EEP Programme Director Wim Jonker Klunne continued with presenting hydropower projects in the EEP portfolio and the panel on hydro shared their thoughts about barriers and possibilities in the African hydropower sector.

Partnering and knowledge sharing throughout KEF

After the lunch GOGLA and EUEI PDF (sharing on RECP and ElectriFI) provided brochuresinteresting insights into supporting mechanisms for renewable energy projects and highlighted the need for early-stage funding through EEP as well as the added value in partnering and sharing information on funding opportunities.

In addition to several networking breaks, the round-table discussions offered the participants a chance to share their own experiences about innovations in the business model; challenges and lessons from product distribution; regulatory and policy framework; productive use of energy; and ideal team composition for reaching best results in energy projects. The participation in the round-tables was very active and room was full of discussion.

EEP Project of the Year Award 2017

For the fourth time since 2014, EEP selected the Project of the Year among the three shortlisted projects who were invited to give a presentation at the KEF. The competition was very tough as 15 successful project developers had submitted an application for the award. The Project of the Year title was finally awarded to the Kampala-based company Green Bio Energy. The winner convinced the EEP jury with the remarkable results that they have achieved with their energy-efficient cookstoves and eco-friendly briquettes.  Green Bio Energy has up to date affected the lives of 750,000 Ugandans, reduced 265,000 tons of CO2 emission and created permanent jobs for over 250 people. GBE’s annual growth in sales is forecast to be 25 %, and the company is poised to continue its expansion in Kampala and Mbale areas. Green Bio Energy hoped that this award would support them in achieving even better results and a greater impact.


This year’s winner GBE will be seen in the world’s leading startup event Slush Helsinki in November, where they will get a valuable opportunity to create contacts with international investors and mingle with other startup companies.

The other two great finalists were Absolute Energy with a solar PV mini-grid project electrifying a remote island of Kitobo in Lake Victoria, and BioLite whose innovative cookstove solution addresses multiple energy needs (ie. cooking, phone charging and lighting) simultaneously. All the finalists have shown great business potential, and we can be sure to hear more about them in the future.


Towards EEP Phase III

The last Knowledge Exchange Forum of the second phase of EEP was closed with the donors’ insights into the achievements of EEP Phase II and introduction to the future of the new EEP Multi-donor Trust Fund starting its operations in the beginning of 2018. The donors humbly thanked all project developers for their committed efforts in advancing the goals of EEP.


More presentations from KEF Kampala will be added soon.



REDAVIA Innovative Business Model – Rent the Solar Farm, Own the Future

EEP introduces another Innovative Business Model from the portfolio of EEP projects.

REDAVIA’s pre-configured, containerized solar mini-grids demonstrate the essence of an Innovative Business Model. The unique element in the business model is that REDAVIA rents the mini-grid and delivers 360° service including engineering, manufacturing, assembling, testing, deployment, maintenance and redeployment. The high-quality solar farm can be set up on average in four days and the communities and other customers save the high upfront investment required for a “traditional” mini-grid solution.

The Innovative Business Model illustrates the benefits of REDAVIA’s innovative system in two Tanzanian villages. The results of the system and provided electricity have been very tangible for the local communities and businesses including schools, hospitals and farmers. From a financial perspective, the rental model gives the villages significant flexibility to scale their solar energy capacity. By simply adding new containers of solar panels when the demand for electricity increases is a solution that enables faster uptake of the system.

REDAVIA is expanding its footprint in Tanzania and other parts of East and West Africa. The German-based company is poised to roll out enhanced solar technology with more intuitive features and begin scaling its mini-grid operation. REDAVIA maintains a close collaboration with each village by fully operating the mini-grid and also plans to create new job opportunities by transferring the control to the local villagers. REDAVIA is committed to using solar power as a key driver to sustainable social and economic impact.

REDAVIA Innovative Business Model >>

Read stories of other EEP Innovative Business Models >>

The latest EEP results demonstrating excellent progress in the renewably energy sector

EEP is proud to present the latest EEP M&E results by mid-2017 which show that EEP Programme continues on the right track with great performance.

The published EEP S&EA semi-annual M&E Programme report 2017 highlights positive progress in terms of reaching rural and urban beneficiaries with almost 800,000 households benefitting from improved energy access through EEP.

Some of the greatest results were achieved in reduction of CO2 emissions where the end of Programme target has been substantially exceeded. So far a reduction of 473,000 tonnes of CO2 has been achieved against the final target of 113,000 tonnes. The three best performers in CO2 reductions of the monitored projects during the first half of the year 2017 were Green Bio Energy in Uganda, GCS Tanzania and Sollatek Kenya.

Similarly, the amount of energy generated, 234,000 MWh/year by June 2017, has clearly exceeded the target of 81,000 MWh/year.

During the six-month period from January to June 2017 29 completed projects were monitored and evaluated, and their contribution has been included into the cumulative Programme results. With 132 projects monitored and 62 still in implementation, EEP has by June 2017 already exceeded 16 of the 22 end-of-the-programme targets of December 2017.

See more results in the EEP semi-annual M&E Programme report 2017, which includes an updated overview of the EEP portfolio. In 2017, EEP continued to interact as an active regional partner engaged in different RE/EE initiatives and provide technical support to project developers.  In the M&E report you can also find highlights of EEP activities in Business Development Support, Knowledge Management and Research.

Invitation to 6th EEP Knowledge Exchange Forum in Kampala, Uganda

The EEP S&EA will be hosting its 6th Knowledge Exchange Forum (KEF) on the 11th of October 2017 at Protea Hotel Kampala, Uganda. You are warmly welcome to join the KEF to hear about the recent developments of renewable energy sector in Uganda and East Africa.

The EEP Knowledge Exchange Forum organised since 2014 has been an active event of discussions, sharing of experiences and a place to network with players in the renewable energy and energy efficiency sector. The feedback from the previous KEFs has enabled us to develop a highly appreciated event specifically tailored for the needs of EEP project developers. Based on its core idea of networking, the KEF offers ample opportunity to learn and build new business relationships.

The day will be built around a combination of interesting presentations and casual networking. Programme’s highlights include private sector perspectives on investing in renewable energy shared by Patrick Bitature, founder and chairman of the Simba Group of Companies. In addition, the KEF will discuss and introduce various support mechanisms for project developers. The status of EEP Phase III will be shared during the KEF. Towards the afternoon the participants are encouraged to share their successes and challenges in round-table discussions.

The day will reach a finale in the awarding of EEP Project of the Year 2017 so please apply for the prestigious nomination here >>. Three shortlisted projects will be invited to pitch their projects during the KEF and the lucky winner will gain an opportunity to participate in the world’s leading startup event Slush Helsinki.

See the KEF agenda here >>

The agenda is preliminary and subject to change. The final programme of the day will be updated on the EEP website.

Register latest on 30 September >> 

Please note, that participation in the event is open for all and free of charge but a registration is compulsory. There is a limited number of seats so make sure to reserve your place soon!

We sincerely hope you will be able to join us in KEF Kampala and look forward to meet you there. Welcome!