Design Expo 2014: Online Discussion - Access to Energy


(Business Fights Poverty) #1

This online panel discussion at 3.30 UK time on Monday 9 June will explore the following questions:

  1. What are the emerging technologies that have the potenital to transform access to energy in the future?
  2. What pricing and distribution approaches seem to be working in expanding the poor's access to energy?
  3. What should governments do to help drive access to energy, including for women and children?


Panelists include: Liz Grubin, Impact Carbon; Vincenzo Capogna, Sunny Money (Solar Aid); Sheila Oparaocha, Energia; Davinia Cogan, GVEP International; Gaurav Mehta, Dharma Life.

Editor's Note:

This is a text-only, written discussion. To post comments you will need to sign in / sign up to Business Fights Poverty. A list of recent comments is shown in the right-hand side bar and will refresh every 5 minutes. To refresh more often, please click on the refresh icon in your browser.

This event is part of the Business Fights Poverty Design Expo 2014. Running from 9 to 13 June, the Design Expo is an online celebration of products, services and business models transforming the lives of poor people. The Design Expo is a collaboration with iDE UK and is being supported by the UK's Department for International Development.

The Expo will include a vibrant mix of blogs, Google Hangouts, online panel discussions, a Twitter Jam and a virtual exhibition zone. Each day we will focus on a different sector: Energy (9 June), Health (10 June), Communications (11 June), Livelihoods (including enterprise, finance and agriculture) (12 June) and Water & Sanitation (13 June).

From Monday 9 June, you will be able to access all the activities via the Design Expo landing page, www.designexpo.businessfightspoverty.org. Participation in the Design Expo is free. You will simply need to sign in (or sign up for free) to Business Fights Poverty.



(Zahid Torres-Rahman) #2

Welcome everyone to the first event in the 2014 Design Expo!

In this session, we are joined by an excellent panel to discuss Access to Energy.

This is a written discussion. So please go ahead an post your questions and comments!

Let's start with the first question:

Q1: What are the emerging technologies that have the potenital to transform access to energy in the future?


(Gaston Bilder) #3

And are they already profitable / ready to be commercially implemented?


(Janet Geddes) #4

Yes understanding how far from market certain emerging technologies are, and what are the barriers to commercialisation would be super useful.


(Nicole Evans) #5

This may not be emerging tech but I have seen one example of a company not only offering high quality solar panels but also the financing to allow customers to afford it. - BBOXX.

Judging by their growth, they are likely to be profitable in the near future.


(Vincenzo Capogna) #6

In SunnyMoney we saw how entry level Solar lights and (entry-level) Pay-As-You-Go or Pay-Per-Use solar products have a strong potential in extending energy access among the low-income population in developing countries.


(Zahid Torres-Rahman) #7

That's a really great question, Gaston! We have a Google Hangout immediately after this looking at the business models that underpin design innovation.


(Liz Grubin) #8

These are both great questions, and critical for scaling up clean energy technologies. At Impact Carbon, one of our main areas of focus has been household cooking interventions, and have had real success scaling affordable, improved stoves that promote significant fuel savings for households in Uganda. Ability to pay up front remains a key barrier to a fully commercial approach. I’d be interested to hear about the experience others have had with providing financing for these types of products, and can share results of some of our efforts to do so.


(Vincenzo Capogna) #9

Solar lights allow low income households to save large portion of their income (shifting from Kerosene or battery lights, etc to solar) and (for entry level lights) the pay back period can be lower that 2 months.


(Zahid Torres-Rahman) #10

Nicole - thank you for your contribution. Can you share any more information? Even if you can't share the name, it would be interesting to hear a little more about their model.


(Vincenzo Capogna) #11

These are reliable products (with 2 years warranty) and much brighter and safer that the current alternatives.


(Gaurav Mehta) #12

At Dharma Life in India we have tested consumer finance models with both MFIs and also direct lending models. There is very strong potential for both pay as you go models and also for consumer financed energy solutions


(Zahid Torres-Rahman) #13

Vincenzo - when you first approach a community, how easy / hard is it to make that case? How do you go about building awareness and demand?


(Davinia Cogan) #14

There are a number of companies we see in East Africa such as M-KOPA in Kenya and Off.Grid-Electric in Tanzania that are building scalable and commercially viable businesses that address these issues. M-KOPA recently raised US$20m from a consortium of investors and Off.Grid recently raised US$7m.


(Vincenzo Capogna) #15

As responsible of the innovation department at SunnyMoney, I'm both testing (with promising results) customer finance with SACCOs and MFIs and working on developing and piloting entry-level PAYG lights.The results from the trials are really encouraging both in terms of uptake and repayment rate.


(Lewis Temple) #16

I would be interested to learn about the experience of businesses offering finance 'in-house' for customers, or partnering with micro-finance organisations or other banks to provide financing? Do any of the panelists have good of bad experience of either approach?


(Davinia Cogan) #17

Pay-as-you-go technologies in the context of solar energy for lighting and entertainment are relatively well formed and developed, certainly in East Africa. The next PAYG tech revolution may be in regard to cookstoves. There is also great potential for PAYG appliances such as refrigerators, which is largely untapped.


(Vincenzo Capogna) #18

in SunnyMoney, we used a model called School Campaign to promote solar lights through the capillary network of the schools and to generate trusted thanks to the help of trusted community leaders: the head-teachers.


(Gaurav Mehta) #19

Have tried both, there a lot of benefits in tying up with MFIs, and this is much easier to scale up in my experience. However, it only addresses about 10% of the population in a typical village in India


(Zahid Torres-Rahman) #20

Ok - let's move onto our second question!

Q2: What pricing and distribution approaches seem to be working in expanding the poor's access to energy?