Energy poverty, or lack of affordable access to sustainable sources of energy, remains a challenge for over 1 billion people around the world, negatively impacting their economic and educational opportunities, health and well-being, as well as the environment. This population is faced with the option of either ceasing all work and study at night, or spending limited resources on inefficient and costly sources of energy to light their homes, such as kerosene lamps. Furthermore, many families cook daily meals on inefficient cook stoves and open fires, causing unnecessary deaths and contributing to deforestation and global warming.
Our approach to connecting people living in poverty with affordable access to sustainable sources of energy involves assessing market failures (such as lack of product awareness and product distribution to rural areas) and local needs, and researching social enterprises, technologies, and business models that can bridge the energy access gap. Through our Green Technology (GreenTech) Fund, we have already established key partnerships with microfinance institutions (MFIs) and co-ops that can help close this gap by connecting users with affordable products. In Honduras, for example, we have partnered with COMIXMUL to provide solar powered lighting solutions to off-grid communities. Additionally, we plan on working with COMIXMUL and local distributors to broaden product offerings to include solutions that are appropriate for clients of all income levels.
- Clients that use solar technologies eliminate the cost of kerosene, candles and cell phone charging, which the International Finance Corporation (IFC) estimates can account for10-25% of household spending. In addition, families gain access to more productive hours each day; children can study at night with a clean, bright source of light, and families can listen to the radio without needing to purchase batteries. Unlike kerosene lamps, solar lights pose no danger if dropped, and produce no harmful emissions.
- Improved cook stoves reduce wood usage and toxic emissions. They improve health for the entire family, and save the time or money formerly spent on obtaining wood.
- Microfinance institutions and cooperatives are well positioned to promote, educate and finance green technologies. Because they provide those living in poverty with financial services, MFIs and coops have a deep understanding of local needs, and they have the infrastructure required to reach rural, off-grid populations.
- Social enterprises are key partners in the distribution of green technologies. It is crucial for MFIs to build relationships with local distributors who place a strong emphasis on product quality and maintenance support, and who have built a sustainable distribution platform for reaching poor households with solar power and improved cook stoves.
- Watch our GreenTech video for a quick two minute overview of our current work.
- Lack of affordable access to sustainable sources of energy negatively impacts a person’s economic opportunities, educational attainment, and health, as well as the environment.
- To help bridge the energy gap, Global Partnerships (GP) is assessing market failures and local needs, and researching social enterprises, technologies, and business models that can provide appropriate energy solutions.