Clean Energy Partnerships (CEP)

Establish strategic partnerships and a collaborative platform, to accelerate innovation in business models, technologies and affordable modern energy access for poor households and enterprises.

This activity focuses on building strategic clean energy innovation partnerships to accelerate the development of regional energy solutions to develop and deploy smarter energy systems and innovation for Energy Access.


Acumen Pioneer Energy Investment Initiative (PEII)

By proving that continued early stage investment in pioneer enterprises, paired with impact measurement and post investment support, can result in sustainable exits and be attractive to capital providers at all stages of business growth, PEII seeks to make significant improvements in the lives of poor people through increased investment in the off-grid energy sector.

Activities within this project will include:

  • Investment in early stage energy access companies, including pipeline development and due diligence
  • Post-investment support in the form of TA grants to address specific need or gaps, like strategic and financial planning, market development, etc.
  • Launch new and follow-up lean data projects to track key business performance metrics and gain insights to possible over-indebtedness, customer’s gender and disability profile, and productive-use applications
  • Though leadership development on financial exits in the off-grid market
  • Extensive engagement and public events to advance a multi-sectoral strategic partnership

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Crowd Power Phase II (CP2)

CP2 seeks to support energy access businesses (early stage and growth phase) raise debt or equity by means of crowd-funding and will employ a range of interventions to encourage financing of early stage ventures to mitigate financial risk for retail investors and to build a broad and diverse network of investors, including millennials and diaspora, investing in and donating to energy access SMEs. It is the second phase of an experimental programme that showcases evidence in action of the potential of crowdfunding in the off-grid energy access space with potential for broader application within the social impact space.

Activities within this project will include:

  • Partner with crowd funding platforms and provide matched funding (quasi-equity) and provide lump-sum investments for energy access (equity) crowd-funding campaigns, also conducting a concept feasibility study and exploring potential partnerships between debt and equity platforms
  • Create a local currency lending facility and employ two viable guarantee mechanisms to support debt crowd-funding campaigns employing multiple platforms for energy access businesses, evaluating and reporting on the benefits and detractors of different mechanisms and new types of instruments
  • Support platforms engaging potential millennials and diaspora investors formulate effective outreach strategies; provide funding for outreach to targets and for incentives to attract potential investors/lenders to the energy access crowd-funding space
  • Produce three state of the market reports and three briefing papers as well as possible case studies for wide dissemination and uptake

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energise africa

Energise Africa

Energise Africa is a crowd-funding platform supporting peer-to-peer lending by raising debt from the UK crowd to finance pioneering off-grid solar home system SMEs in sub-Saharan Africa. The initiative is a joint venture between Ethex, a UK based non-profit social impact savings and investment platform, and Lendahand, a Dutch based crowdfunding platform focused on impact investing in emerging markets, launched in 2017 and supported by UK aid and Virgin Unite. UKaid provides match funding for some Energise Africa projects, effectively investing alongside UK-based investors and boosting overall impact on the ground and provides grant funding to support the platform development of Energise Africa to achieve its objectives. The key objective is to scale up lending. To achieve this, Energise Africa works to increase the investor base of private crowd lenders, support campaigns with lump sum investment, match funding and gift vouchers to attract new investors, as well as share data. 

Energise Africa's operations include:

  •  Lump-sum investments and match funding (including first loss)
  • Market awareness building
  • Pipeline building and borrower on-boarding
  • Research on effectiveness of different intervention strategies and outreach channels

Overall, Energise Africa aims at raising an additional £3m for off-grid energy companies, thereby enabling a further 125,000 households to gain access to clean energy and accelerating progress towards the achievement of UN SDG 7- to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all 2030. 

Read more: Energise Africa


Global Distributors Collective

The GDC is hosted by Practical Action with implementing partners Hystra and BoP Innovation Center. The GDC is a collective of last mile distributor (LMD) members, working across Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and South Asia, that seeks to expand the deployment of off-grid solar and other life-changing products to the world’s most underserved communities, through building a sustainable last mile distribution (LMD) sector.

The objective of this project is to reduce the costs and help scale up LMDs, enhance LMD business performance, practices, and knowledge sharing and help forge new partnerships. The ultimate aim for the collective is to strengthen the LMD sector to better enable uptake of off-grid energy products by bottom of pyramid customers.

Activities for this project include:

  • Create a centralised purchasing platform to facilitate distributors’ relations with suppliers, make the importation process less time consuming and risky, and ultimately reduce working capital requirements by making stock available in the country.
  • Provide opportunities for LMDs to collaborate, share recent and future market trends, network and share knowledge between different businesses through learning and collaboration events.
  • Pilot incremental improvements in business practice, and aim for them to be widely replicated across the sector. Learning from the proposed incremental pilots will be made publicly available and shared across the sector. 
  • Improve understanding of the LMD sector, with the LMD State of the Sector Report, helping LMDs, investors and donors understand market trends and how they can best stimulate and support the sector.

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Mini-grid coordination, research and cost reduction (MGCR)

MGCR is a multi-faceted programme designed to address bottlenecks inhibiting mini-grid market expansion, by structuring existing initiatives and organisations into a cohesive, collaborative partnership – engaging the developer, funder, regulator and utilities role players, bringing them together to address cross-agency barriers and gaps and improve knowledge sharing and insights. The ultimate aim is substantially to reduce levelised cost of electricity through mini-grids significantly enhancing their viability and likely deployment rate with associated increased energy access, whilst improving the efficiency of donor funding & sector visibility.

Activities within this project will include:

  • Leverage the existing approach and process of CrossBoundary Mini-grid Innovation Lab to source, prioritise, design and develop clear hypotheses concerning mini-grid development cost reductions, conduct baseline data collection, fund implementation of prototypes in the field, monitor and evaluate results with academic partners and disseminate the results
  • Support the MGP to scope and commission a state of the mini-grids market report to raise awareness, mobilise investment and inform decision making in the sector
  • Continue to convene and coordinate Mini-grid Funders Group meetings, managing and hosting a funders database and developing and progressing collective actions from the group
  • Support and fund the MGP’s sector coordination and communication role

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Powering Opportunities Partnership (POP)


The Powering Opportunities Partnership will demonstrate how the off-grid energy sector can stimulate local job creation and GVA in Sub-Saharan Africa, with two focus areas across the off-grid energy value chain: (1) productive energy end-use with attention to creating and driving rural economic development and demand, met by responding supply; and local upstream (R&D, testing, manufacturing, assembly) and the far downstream (end use, repair, refurbishment, recycling) segments of the value chain. 


The uniqueness of the programme is that it will support local economic development opportunities across the OGE value chain, wherefrom total value chain economics might be improved and a platform for new and/or unconventional partnerships will be enabled to emerge more strongly.

Carbon Trust

Activities within this project will include:

  • Run a challenge fund with two windows supporting proposals that demonstrate the most promising and impactful local opportunities and business/project/partnership innovations; one window focused on productive energy end-use and another focused on upstream and downstream value addition and employment creation
  • Catalyse high-potential applications and encourage formation of networks and new partnerships via successfully linking value chain actors and complementary partners
  • Deploy a robust research and data collection approach, and strategically and widely share insights and information gained to the off-grid community, economic development actors, and others
  • Work with partners to encourage uptake of learnings and successes and develop the basis for further opportunity development post-funding


Powering Opportunities Partnership - Call for Expression of Interest for Productive Energy Use action research projects in sub-Saharan Africa


Strengthening national renewable energy (RE) associations

Building strong and representative national renewable energy associations delivering effective services to their members is targeted as a cornerstone to addressing the current situation of lacking public-private dialogue, imbalance and inadequacies in national policy environments, poor coordination to address regional challenges and sparse national level market data concerning the off-grid solar market.

Activities within this project will include:

  • Engage diverse existing national renewable energy associations to create a learning and sharing network and facilitate peer-to-peer learnings, regular trainings, thematic workshops and funder’s meeting
  • Create a facility for joint market enabling activities by sourcing ideas from the network, such as joint advocacy, stakeholder engagement, market surveillance and promotion of quality standards; facilitate the ideation process, select projects, provide due diligence, financial and technical support and coordinate funding and dissemination of learnings.
  • Develop the capacity and support three national associations to set up national sales data collections processes as an on-going function and output national sales data reports and dissemination of results.

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Read more about the Partnership Structure

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