EEP Africa Approves 19 New Projects Featuring Women in Clean Energy

11 female CEOs stand out among the 19 clean energy startups, early stage companies and projects at feasibility stage approved by the EEP Africa Innovation Window Investment Committee

The EEP Africa Innovation Window Investment Committee (IC) met in Nairobi, Kenya on 26 September 2019 to approve funding for a new cohort of projects submitted under the latest EEP Africa open call-for-proposals: “Promoting Gender Inclusion, Female Leadership and Opportunities for Women across the Clean Energy Sector in Southern and East Africa.”

The IC was chaired by Mr. Aleksi Lumijärvi, Program Manager at the Nordic Development Fund (NDF) and included Ms. Anu Hassinen, Senior Policy Advisor at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, and Ms. Nishdeep Sethi, Deputy Head of Structured Finance and Products at the Africa Guarantee Fund (AGF).

Ms. Sethi joined the IC as an independent member, enhancing synergies within the NDF portfolio of climate finance activities and building a linkage to the new joint initiative of AGF and the African Development Bank (AfDB), Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA), announced recently at the 2019 G7 Summit in Biarritz. The planned USD 200 million initiative will catalyze access to finance for women entrepreneurs in Africa and holds potential to link closely to women-owned and women-led companies in the EEP Africa clean energy portfolio.

Ambassador Christian Fellner, Austria’s Ambassador to Kenya and Permanent Representative to the UN in Nairobi, joined the opening session of the IC meeting and endorsed the strong focus on women, sustainable jobs and private sector led green growth.

“Having now chaired two investment committee rounds under EEP Africa, I am pleased to see continuous evolution and improvements in process and quality,” said NDF Program Manager and Investment Committee Chair, Aleksi Lumijärvi. “We were able to approve a broadly diversified portfolio of 19 projects, all strongly aligned with the core EEP Africa mandate to support early stage clean energy innovation while also enhancing our focus on women and women leadership.”

This was the 15th call-for-proposals (CfP15) under EEP Africa since 2010 and the first call with a specific theme. The call attracted 285 applications and a combined financing request of EUR 97 million. The applications included a diverse set of innovative business models covering 12 different clean energy technologies and 14 countries.

“We already knew that women are leading the clean energy transition in Africa and now we can point to an EEP Africa portfolio that says the same thing,” said EEP Africa Fund Manager and NDF Program Manager, Charles Wetherill, “11 out of 19 new portfolio companies are led by female CEOs, and all 19 feature unique dimensions on engaging women in clean energy design, delivery and use.”

The motivation for a themed call-for-proposals featuring women in the clean energy sector stems from earlier knowledge work and EEP Africa analysis of its own portfolio which resulted in a major study released in 2017: Understanding the Role of Women and Girls in Renewable and Energy-Efficiency Projects. One of the core findings from the study was that “women and girls stand to benefit the most from the availability of sustainable, affordable and renewable energy sources.”

Further insights on the clean energy market demand stemming from the applications to this latest EEP Africa call can be accessed here: Promoting Women in Clean Energy: Insights from 285 EEP Africa Applications.

Photo credit: Agsol

EEP Africa is a clean energy financing facility hosted and managed by the Nordic Development Fund (NDF) with funding from Austria, Finland and NDF. It provides early stage grant and catalytic debt financing to innovative clean energy projects, technologies and business models in Southern and East Africa.

Market Report: Clean Energy Financing Demand

EEP Africa received a total of 530 applications in its 14th Call for Proposals (CfP14). This was five times the average number of applications received in previous calls, demonstrating the high demand for early stage financing in the clean energy sector.

The applications covered a wide variety of project types, technologies and geographical areas. Collectively, they offer an overview of the state of the market and emerging trends in the renewable energy sector in Southern and East Africa.

Based on the information received in this call, EEP Africa has produced a Market Report: Clean Energy Financing Demand with observations and insights from CfP14. These will strengthen EEP Africa’s operations and help other donors and investors in the sector ensure their strategies are responsive to market needs.

Key Conclusions:

  • Grant funding is needed to de-risk innovation, leverage private sector investment.
  • Solar PV is dominant but sustainable business models are developing in other technologies.
  • Mini-grids are focusing on productive uses of en­ergy to improve financial viability.
  • Technological risks are decreasing but risks in the operating environment remain challenging.
  • Significant effort is needed to expand opportuni­ties for women as leaders and entrepreneurs.

Download a copy of the full report.

EEP Africa Team Sees Impact on the Ground

The EEP Africa team recently visited a number of projects from its portfolio in Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda. The projects covered a range of clean energy technologies that highlight the diverse EEP Africa portfolio, including mini-grids, micro-hydro, electric mobility, solar home systems and improved cookstoves. It’s always exciting to see the impact that EEP financing has on the ground and the amazing work the project developers are doing!

To keep up to date on the travels of our team members and the achievements of EEP-financed projects, please please follow our social media channels, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. The project developers visited by the EEP Africa team most recently are:

Tiny Totos is bringing clean cooking to day cares in Nairobi and working with them to offer working mothers access to clean energy products and financing. Tiny Totos recently won the African Regional MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge, a competition for entrepreneurs using technology to create economic opportunity for workers, with an entry based on the platform being built with EEP financing. The EEP Africa team was joined on the site visit by representatives of the Africa Guarantee Fund and the governments of Finland and Canada.

Kumudzi Kuwale operates 34 stations in the Central District of Malawi that provide affordable, renewable electricity and light to the most marginalised, rural population. (This social enterprise is partially owned by Grønn-Hagen Bjørke Malawi Foundation in Norway.) EEP Africa financing is supporting scale up of this model and expansion to new regions across Malawi.

Zembo is bringing electric motorcycles to the boda-boda taxi market in Kampala, Uganda. EEP Africa financing is supporting the piloting of this new product and the establishment of battery re-charging stations. Our team even got to take a ride on one of the new motorcycles!

SolarWorks! has begun to build a distribution and sales network in Malawi for solar home systems that support lighting, mobile-phone charging, televisions, and refrigeration. EEP Africa financing supports last mile distribution, enabling the project to reach the most remote and financially constrained households.

Ensol has developed mini-grids in the village of Mpale, Tanzania and its five hamlets. The mini-grid model has a clear focus on developing the local community through productive use of energy assets. Our team visited Mpale and enjoyed the electrified village by night!

Devergy has deployed 14 mini-grids in Tanzania and is now driving rural entrepreneurship with the sale of solar productive use of energy systems, particularly refrigerators. Our team visited one of the sites financed by EEP Africa in Ifumbo.

Practical Action has secured a site in Usingini, Malawi for a 300 kW micro-hydro plant that will provide electricity to smallholder coffee farmers. EEP Africa financing is ensuring that the project includes integrated community engagement.

Investor Forum Matchmakes Companies and Investors in Clean Energy

EEP Africa, Shell Foundation and Factor[e] Ventures together with select investors and companies come together in Nairobi for high energy investor day.

EEP Africa, Shell Foundation and Factor[e] Ventures convened a select group of impact investors for structured matchmaking meetings with a curated group of high impact, investible clean energy companies in Nairobi on 24 September 2019.  The invitation-only event brought together more than 50 global and regional investors, DFIs and funds together with more than 20 leading innovation- and impact- oriented companies in clean energy and sustainable transport.

The day showcased the value of partnerships at all levels. EEP Africa and Shell Foundation each have long experience hosting successful investor events and deep early stage investment portfolios in clean energy in Africa. Together with Factor[e] Ventures, the partners together brought a combined portfolio of high quality companies in front of a room of investors, providing pure added-value in a single day for investors and companies alike.

Kicking off the event on behalf of the Nordic Development Fund (NDF), EEP Africa Fund Manager and NDF Program Manager Charles Wetherill told the audience,

“I ran into a CEO in the airport yesterday who said he dropped everything and flew here exclusively for this event when he saw the high quality investor list.”

“Our purpose is to catalyse investment in a curated pipeline of investible companies delivering climate relevant, clean energy business models in line with the SDGs,” Wetherill said in a morning address to investors, adding, “we want to be your trusted and preferred partner for identification of the next generation of scalable investment opportunities in clean energy in Africa.”

The day also offered dedicated opportunities for investors only to network and discuss topics including catalysing blended finance, valuation strategies, access to local currency debt and guarantees and best practices on identifying, mentoring and investing in local African entrepreneurs. Participants included private equity and impact investors, debt and guarantee providers, grant facilities, local banks, and DFIs.

EEP Africa Head of Portfolio & Finance, Lauri Tuomaala, highlighted that

the strong portfolio of companies here today is a testament to the power of partnership and provides investors with an efficient platform to connect with emerging players in the sector and identify investment opportunities.

EEP Africa was proud to partner with Shell Foundation and Factor[e] Ventures on this major event.

Access to finance is a key barrier towards scaling off-grid energy and transport businesses in East Africa,” noted Heidi Hafes, Market Development Manager for Shell Foundation. “Events like these are important in bringing together investors active in the sector with relevant entrepreneurs. We look forward to seeing today’s vibrant discussions lead to positive actions.

Faith Chege, East Africa Regional Associate at Factor[e] Ventures, emphasized that “the strong network of investors here provide follow-on funding to our diverse portfolio of found and validated companies, creating a rich pipeline of technology-enabled ventures in the region. These partnerships have made it possible for funded companies to raise Series A and B rounds.

Participating companies were also selected from the portfolio of the Nordic Climate Facility, a challenge fund facility managed by NDF and providing early stage grant support for innovative climate business concepts with focus on specific countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Ramses Malaty, Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Finland in Kenya, closed the event by noting that it’s “great to witness the effect of Finland’s long-term commitment to EEP Africa. The private sector collaboration keeps growing and getting better all the time!”

Plans are already underway for the next investor event to take place in South Africa in the first half of 2020. Interested investors are invited to be in touch at info@eepafrica.org to explore participation.

EEP Africa is a clean energy financing facility managed by the Nordic Development Fund (NDF) with funding from Austria, Finland and NDF. It provides early stage grant and catalytic debt financing to innovative clean energy projects, technologies and business models in Southern and East Africa.

Shell Foundation (SF) is a UK-registered charity that creates and scales business solutions to enhance access to energy and affordable transport. It supports innovators to test new technology and enterprise models that can contribute towards the SDGs, achieve financial independence and operate at scale.

Factor[e] Ventures is a venture capital firm with operations in East Africa, USA & India. We invest in early stage ventures in agriculture, sanitation, mobility & energy. Through our venture development high touch model, we work closely with our portfolio companies to transform their ideas into market based solutions.

Nordic Climate Facility (NCF) is a challenge fund hosted and managed by the Nordic Development Fund (NDF) financing early stage climate projects in select countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. NCF aims to build a portfolio of innovative business concepts which have been tested, proved viable and are ready to be scaled-up and replicated.

Solar Irrigation Highlights NDF Portfolio Synergies

New loan financing from Off-Grid Energy Access Fund builds on early stage support from EEP Africa and highlights synergies in the NDF clean energy portfolio.

The Facility for Energy Inclusion Off-Grid Energy Access Fund (FEI-OGEF) recently announced a new investment in SunCulture, a Kenya-based company specializing in solar pumping, irrigation and technology solutions for small holder farmers.

“This is the perfect illustration of NDF’s portfolio approach to climate finance,” said NDF Program Manager and EEP Africa Manager, Charles Wetherill. “We are making deliberate financing choices that yield powerful synergies in the marketplace. In this case, EEP Africa, NDF’s early stage clean energy financing vehicle, took the first step with grant financing in 2016 to enable SunCulture to develop its business case. Now FEI-OGEF, another strategic piece of the NDF climate finance portfolio, picks up the baton with working capital debt financing to enable scale-up and growth.”

SunCulture enables rural and small holder households, many of which are women-led, to make the switch from rainfall dependent agriculture to irrigation based agriculture. This brings improved productivity, expands the number of growing seasons and land under cultivation and can increase household income by as much as 5x – 10x.

FEI-OGEF is a blended finance off-grid energy investment fund established in 2018 by the African Development Bank and NDF together with partners including All-On, Calvert Impact Capital and the Global Environment Fund (GEF) and managed by Lions Head Global Partners.

More information on EEP Africa support to SunCulture is available here.

More information can be found directly at the FEI-OGEF and SunCulture websites

Photo credit: SunCulture

EEP Africa Trust Fund 2018 Annual Report

EEP Africa is proud to publish the first Annual Report since its transition to a multi-donor fund hosted by the Nordic Development Fund (NDF). The report highlights the new project portfolio and plans for the future, while also showcasing EEP Africa’s cumulative achievements since 2010.

In 2018, NDF proudly took on the legacy and future direction of EEP Africa, expanding our commitment to the clean energy and green growth transition in Africa. We will continue to build on the strong foundation of success inherited from Finland as the founding donor.

Leena Klossner, Vice President, Acting Managing Director, NDF

During 2018, EEP Africa introduced new financing instruments and an enhanced results focus on the Sustainable Development Goals. An extraordinarily successful Call for Proposals resulted in 28 new projects approved for financing with a total portfolio size of EUR 14 million. Investor Forums were held in Cape Town and Nairobi. A Knowledge Exchange Forum was held in Kigali and an in-depth study on Opportunities and Challenges in the Mini-grid Sector in Africa was produced.

Download the 2018 Annual Report to read more about all these activities and achievements.

Since 2010, EEP Africa has channeled more than EUR 70 million to 250 pioneering projects. These projects have created over 8,000 jobs, improved clean energy access for 5 million people, and reduced or avoided 1.4 million tonnes of CO2e. EEP Africa is hosted and managed by NDF with funding from Finland, Austria and NDF.

EEP Africa Kick-starts African Utility Week with its Investor Forum

13 May 2019, Cape Town, South Africa

EEP Africa organised a successful matchmaking session for investors and renewable energy companies in Cape Town on Monday. Held one day before the start of Africa Utility Week (AUW), this event brought together local, regional and global investors and EEP Africa-supported companies to spur follow-on investments in the clean energy sector. Investors representing venture capital, impact finance, private equity, DFIs and financial institutions participated in an afternoon of project pitches, matchmaking and deal flow identification.

 “With this latest Investor Forum, EEP Africa is once again demonstrating its vital matchmaking role in early stage clean energy financing,” proclaimed Leena Klossner, Vice President and Acting Managing Director of the Nordic Development Fund (NDF), in her welcoming address. “EEP Africa is a key piece in NDF’s green growth financing portfolio and strongly demonstrates our readiness to take early stage risk in the clean energy sector in Africa. We are so pleased to see such strong participation from companies and investor partners who share these goals.”

Strong cooperation and partnerships are critical for the clean energy sector to contribute to sustainable green growth and accelerated climate action. Farai Kanonda, Regional Operations Manager for Energy and Infrastructure at the African Development Bank (AfDB) delivered a keynote address to kick off the event, calling for renewed partnerships among the participants in the room and highlighting key AfDB initiatives in the clean energy space including the newly launched Financing Energy Inclusion Off-Grid Energy Fund.

The Investor Forum is an EEP Africa flagship event that brings value to both investors and project developers. Investors looking to identify deal flow opportunities gain access to a pre-screened pipeline of clean energy projects from the broad EEP Africa portfolio. Project developers with proven business models and projects poised for scale-up get the opportunity to start a conversation with potential investors. The Cape Town Investor Forum brought together 40 investors and project developers to unlock additional investments in the renewable energy sector in Africa.

EEP Africa Presents its New Project Portfolio

A diverse portfolio of 28 new projects are being funded by EEP Africa in 2019.

EEP Africa received a total of 530 applications in its 14th Call for Proposals. The proposed projects covered a variety of renewable energy technologies and business models across Southern and East Africa. At the end of the highly competitive evaluation process, 28 early stage clean energy projects were selected for funding and began implementation in early 2019.

EEP Africa’s diverse new portfolio is presented in a booklet that introduces the projects and their respective project developers. The portfolio includes projects in 13 countries that are piloting and disseminating the latest technologies in biogas, cookstoves, hydropower, solar PV, solid biomass, waste-to-energy and wind power. The projects range from feasibility studies to scale-ups of successful models, from individual home systems to power plants that feed into the national grid.

These projects are the first to be funded under EEP Africa’s new trust fund structure, which aims to contribute more directly to achievement of the Paris Climate Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). All the projects will be monitored and evaluated based on six key impact indicators: Savings on energy-related expenditure (SDG 1); Women in leadership (SDG 5); People with enhanced energy access (SDG 7); Direct job creation (SDG 8); Mobilised climate finance and CO2e emissions reduced or avoided (SDG 13).

EEP Africa is proud to support the innovative projects in its new portfolio and will work closely with the project developers over the coming months and years to facilitate sustainable and inclusive business growth, with a focus on benefitting poor, vulnerable and underserved groups.

Download the EEP Africa Project Portfolio 2019 booklet as a pdf.

Since 2010, EEP Africa has channeled more than EUR 70 million to 250 pioneering projects. These projects have created over 10,000 jobs, improved clean energy access for over 5 million people, and reduced or avoided 1.6 million tonnes of CO2e. EEP Africa is hosted by the Nordic Development Fund (NDF) with funding provided by Austria, Finland and NDF.