Solar finance startup SunFunder, an investor in Arc Finance partner SolarNow based in Uganda, has closed a US$2.5 million Series A funding round, a milestone for investment in off-grid, small-scale solar. Alongside support from Khosla Impact and Better Ventures, SunFunder secured funding from Schneider Electric, a major multinational player in energy products and key investor in Arc partner Simpa Networks, which manufacturers and distributes solar home systems with a proprietary metering system in Uttar Pradhesh, India.
Arc’s REMMP Partner Simpa Networks Raises US$4m in Commercial Debt Financing to Expand in Uttar Pradesh
Simpa Networks, one of Arc Finance’s partners under the USAID-supported Renewable Energy Microfinance and Microenterprise Program (REMMP), has successfully raised $4M from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. Government’s development finance institution, and from GDF Suez, through their Rassembleurs d’Energies program.
Solar Microgrids in Odisha: Arc Partner Mahashakti Foundation Electrifying Off-Grid Villages
Mahashakti Foundation (MSF) is one of Arc Finance’s partner organizations under the Renewable Energy Microfinance and Microenterprise Program (REMMP) funded by USAID. An NGO-MFI based in the Indian state of Odisha, MSF has, with Arc’s support, provided loans for efficient cookstoves and solar portable lighting under REMMP. In recent months, MSF has taken on a more ambitious program: connecting rural, off-grid villages to solar microgrids. Durmusi and Totaguda are two examples of how a partnership between the financial institution, investors, developers and the villages can connect households to reliable, clean and affordable lighting – providing significant and positive economic, social [...]
A Vision for Energy Access in Rural Pakistan — a Conversation with Fiza Farhan, CEO of the Buksh Foundation
The Buksh Foundation is a young, up-and-coming microfinance institution based in Lahore, Pakistan. In 2010, the organization piloted a clean energy loan program to help business clients better cope with Pakistan’s escalating electricity crisis. In this episode, CEO Fiza Farhan discusses the MFI’s vision of expanding energy access, and the diverse activities – including product design – that it engages in to realize it.
SolarNow Closes Equity Funding Round with Novastar Ventures & Acumen
€2 million equity investment lays groundwork for scaling renewable energy asset finance and distribution in East Africa SolarNow, the Uganda-based solar asset finance company, has closed its most recent equity round, raising €2 million from Novastar Ventures and Acumen, to help meet massive demand for high-quality solar technology in East Africa.
Innovations in Financing Small-Scale Clean Energy II
September 15, 2014, New York, USA
This full-day workshop organized in conjunction with USAID will brought together energy practitioners, investors, support organizations, and technology manufacturers for a series of sessions to discuss the innovations in financing now being deployed in the growing energy access economy. View videos of the event ►
Financing Small Scale Off-Grid Clean Energy: Opportunities and Challenges for Arc’s REMMP Partners in India
Arc’s REMMP India Partners meet for a full day of strategy building and knowledge sharing in Delhi Financing Small Scale Off-Grid Clean Energy: Opportunities and Challenges for Arc’s Partners, a workshop in Delhi, India organized by Arc Finance in conjunction with USAID, brought together microfinance institutions (MFIs), energy enterprises, a crowdfunding platform, and an MFI apex funder for a day-long strategy session.
Financing Small Scale Off-Grid Clean Energy: Opportunities and Challenges for Arc’s Partners
August 1, 2014, Delhi, India
This workshop, organized by Arc Finance in conjunction with USAID, brought together microfinance institutions (MFIs), energy enterprises, one crowdfunding platform, and apex organizations for a day-long strategy session. USAID’s Renewable Energy Microfinance and Microenterprise Program (REMMP), implemented and managed by Arc Finance, is designed to improve access to modern energy services in underserved communities. Arc Finance and USAID aim to demonstrate the commercial viability of consumer payment models (including microfinance, remittances and pay-as-you-go models); facilitating investment for clean energy financing; and improving the capacity of the private [...]
Arc Finance Partners Milaap.org and DCBS profiled at Paris Crowdfunding Event
Yara Akkari tells an expert audience how Indian crowdfunder and Arc partner Milaap.org is bringing new financial channels to small-scale renewable energy sector
Arc Finance’s Remittance Specialist and East Africa Manager Yara Akkari was in Paris on June 17th to speak on a crowdfunding panel at the CrowdTuesday event – a regular platform that brings together various stakeholders in the crowdfunding industry at the local and regional level. CrowdTuesday is run by the European Crowdfunding Network (ECN), and organized by Alex Raguet, ECN’s French Ambassador.
The 2014 Ashden International Award Winners: Bringing Clean Energy Access and Finance to Billions through Innovation and Vision
The Ashden Conference and Awards gives organizations in the renewable energy space a chance to showcase and share innovations in sustainability with practitioners, investors, academics and the press. As in previous summers, Arc Finance participated in this year’s conference, alongside current and potential partners working on ways to bring affordable, clean energy to the BoP. The 2014 Ashden International Award finalists were winners in five categories: Financial Innovation; Avoided Deforestation; Clean Energy for Women and Girls; Energy for Agriculture; and Sustainable Buildings. Each of the winning organizations is working on a solution to the problems that are part of Arc [...]
SolarNow Using Franchise Model to Solve Distribution Challenges in East Africa
Ugandan solar enterprise SolarNow uses a franchise distribution model for Solar Home Systems combined with an in-house credit facility to reach rural customers.
SolarNow is an energy enterprise in Uganda, and an Arc Finance partner under the USAID-funded Renewable Energy Microfinance & Microenterprise Program (REMMP). Established as a social enterprise in May 2011, SolarNow grew out of the Rural Energy Foundation, a Dutch NGO providing distribution and training support for the use of Solar Home Systems (SHS) with market experience across Africa. SolarNow uses asset finance to provide electricity to off-grid rural communities through modular, expandable SHSs, and distributes an [...]
Going “All in” on Solar Finance: How IDCOL Incubates a Growing Industry in Bangladesh
IDCOL and Solar Home Systems in Bangladesh
While demand for small-scale renewable energy is virtually infinite, a small microfinance institution or energy enterprise needs capital to meet that demand with supply. The Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL) addresses this barrier to scale in a unique and exciting way. With massive infusion of government capital, management from the private sector and a unique asset finance model using creative partnerships, IDCOL has produced a stunningly successful program.
M-KOPA Solar: Combining Asset Finance with M-Banking to Drive Affordability in Kenya
In sub-Saharan Africa, nearly 590 million people lack access to electricity, including eighty-five per cent of rural populations. M-KOPA Solar is seeking to change this. Based in Kenya, M-KOPA Solar (www.m-kopa.com) is an innovative asset financing company that sells small-scale solar home systems (SHSs) to off-grid households on an affordable, 12-month mobile money payment plan via hire purchase. As of February 2014, M-KOPA actively provided affordable solar power to over 50,000 Kenyan households – and is adding a thousand more households per week. M-KOPA has ambitious plans: it has just raised US$20 million to fund expansion of its customer [...]
Lighting the Lives of the Rural Poor
Read Online an article posted on USAID’s Frontlines edition published by Arc’s Managing Director Nicola Armacost and USAID’s Pamela Baldinger.
Innovative Consumer Finance Mechanisms for Small Scale Off-Grid Energy
Efforts to provide energy access on a commercial basis to rural populations in developing countries face a range of challenges, including access to finance. Off-grid customers from lower income communities currently pay a high price for purchasing kerosene for basic lighting services and switching to renewable energy based systems would not only save them fuel-costs but also improve their overall quality of life. However, the high upfront cost of the renewable energy based systems (handheld devices and stand-alone systems) restricts them from making this switch. This is identified as a major barrier by all stakeholders committed to the delivery of [...]
ASCOA Seventh Microfinance Panel: Financing Solutions for Clean Energy in Latin America
Niki Armacost discusses Financing Solutions for Clean Energy in Latin America at the Americas Society/Council of the America’s 7th Microfinance Panel in New York City, January 30, 2014. She is joined by panelists Gregory Watson, Head, Strategic Planning and Team Leader, Clean Energy, Multilateral Investment Fund, Inter-American Development Bank and Amy Wang, Investment Officer, Global Social Investment Funds, Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas. Moderated by Christian Gómez, Jr., Director of Energy, Council of the Americas.
Utkarsh Pilot Kicks Off Amidst Great Expectations
Arc/REMMP’s five-branch energy finance pilot program begins in Uttar Pradesh
As one of India’s most successful and dynamic microfinance institutions (MFIs), Utkarsh is one of Arc’s most exciting partner organizations under its USAID-funded Renewable Energy Microfinance and Microenterprise Program (REMMP). The partnership offers a fantastic opportunity to “piggyback” Utkarsh’s nascent energy lending program on top of its underlying vigorous growth. Following a multi-month process, Arc Finance’s pilot program with Utkarsh has just begun renewable energy finance operations in Uttar Pradesh.
WSDS and Arc Finance: Financing and Disbursing Renewable Energy Technology to Remote Communities in Manipur
The Weaker Section Development Society (WSDS) is one of seven microfinance institutions (MFIs) that Arc Finance currently assists under its USAID-funded Renewable Energy Microfinance and Microenterprise Program (REMMP). A small but fast-growing, community-based MFI, WSDS operates in the central and southern districts of India’s northeastern state of Manipur and has recently begun finance and disbursals of solar home system components to underserved communities.
Innovations in Financing Event, NYC 2013
Innovations in Financing Small Scale Clean Energy, a full-day workshop organized by Arc Finance in conjunction with USAID and the Sustainable Energy for All Energy Access Practitioner Network, brought together a range of stakeholders to discuss the innovations in financing now being deployed in the small-scale, clean energy space. These sessions were made possible with generous support from USAID.
October 8, 2013, Manila, The Philippines
The Microcredit Summit Campaign brings together a range of organizations to promote best practices in the microfinance field. Facilitating the interchanging of knowledge, the summit, a 4-day conference held in 2013 in the Philippines, aimed to support the sector in reaching its goals. As a leading organization of its type in the renewable energy finance sector, Arc Finance was invited to organize and host a day-long pre-event workshop at this year’s summit, and for this purpose brought together high-level representatives from MFIs, energy enterprises, government entities and funding platforms to help engage MFIs on [...]
Lumeter: Providing B2B Pay-Go Electricity Meters and Cloud Services for Energy Companies
Mitra Ardron is CEO of Lumeter Networks, which is developing a variety of pre-paid electricity meters and cloud accounting services for renewable energy companies to build micro-grids and solar home systems (SHS) and extend service to the Base of the Pyramid. Renewable energy companies currently have trouble servicing this market because of the difficulty of managing small payments and the high degree of theft. Mitra spoke to Arc about how Lumeter has solved this through an ultra-low cost meter, which incorporates innovative tamper protection across micro-grids and facilitates pre-paid capacity for SHS as well.
Azuri Technologies: Pay-Go Innovations for Solar in Sub-Saharan Africa
The price of small solar systems in East Africa has fallen rapidly over the past decade, but US$70 for a two-light system is still too high for most off-grid households to pay upfront. It would be affordable for many more people with suitable financing to spread the cost, but microfinance isn’t always appropriate or available to fill this gap.
UK technology company Eight19 came up with an innovative way to spread the cost of a solar system: the Indigo pay-as-you-go solar home system that is activated by weekly scratchcard payments. The team spun out Azuri Technologies [...]
Innovations in Financing Small-Scale Clean Energy I
September 20, 2013, New York, USA
Innovations in Financing Small Scale Clean Energy, a full-day workshop organized by Arc Finance in conjunction with USAID and Sustainable Energy for All, the Energy Access Practitioner Network, brought together practitioners, investors, academics, support organizations, technology manufacturers, and journalists for a series of sessions to discuss the innovations in financing now being deployed in the growing energy access economy. View videos from the event ►
EcoZoom Cookstoves: Leveraging Existing Networks as Distribution Channels to Bring Clean Cookstoves to Market
Ben West is the co-founder and CEO of EcoZoom: a for-profit, certified B Corp, social venture company selling affordable wood and charcoal-fueled, highly efficient cookstoves in developing countries. EcoZoom works to empower local workforces, economies and women while creating financially sustainable markets and connecting themselves to all parts of the value chain. The company has 15 staff, and offices in Portland, Oregon and Nairobi, Kenya. To date, the company has sold more than 90,000 units to 14 countries, with key projects in 5 countries.
Before founding EcoZoom with co-founders Amanda West and Phil Ferranto, Ben managed the complete [...]
Ajaita Shah & Frontier Markets: Building a Renewable Energy Distribution “Ecosystem”
Ajaita Shah is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Frontier Markets and the President of Frontier Innovations Foundation. Frontier Markets is a rural marketing, sales, and service distribution company that provides access to affordable and quality consumer durables to low-income households in India. Frontier Markets is currently operating in rural India and working primarily with clean energy products like solar lighting and smokeless stoves. With five years of microfinance experience in India with organizations like SKS Microfinance, and Ujjivan Financial Services, Ajaita has also worked on numerous development projects in seven Indian states.
Bringing light to Haiti, one solar lamp at a time
CBS Evening News Watch Video
Group-based Solar Microleasing in Kenya — a Conversation with Konrad App, CEO of Stima Systems
Stima Systems is a Kenya-based energy startup that delivers affordable lighting and charging services to low-income off-grid customers using a distinct payment model: the group microlease. In this conversation Stima CEO Konrad App shares the origins of Stima’s model and provides insights into the power of groups to expand access and support commercial viability.
Arc Finance at the 2013 Ashden Awards: Partnerships and Innovation in Practice
Solving the “last mile” problem – or providing renewable energy and suitable finance for it to the Bottom of the Pyramid – is far more collaborative than competitive. You can see this clearly in the network of partnerships we at Arc Finance have developed for our current portfolio of projects: we link energy companies, MFIs, technology providers, remittance companies and other distribution organizations to facilitate access to finance for renewable energy for the un(der)electrified billions whose lives can be improved.
Collaboration and partnership were among the key themes of the 2013 Ashden Awards held in [...]
Microfinance Summit, Manila 2013
This day-long, pre-event workshop, held in conjunction with the 2013 Microcredit Summit in Manila, was organized by Arc Finance and brought together high-level representatives from MFIs, energy enterprises, government entities and donors to engage MFIs on financing renewable energy. This video series was made possible with generous support from USAID.
Managing the Success of “The SunnyMoney Way”
SunnyMoney is a social enterprise that was spun off from the NGO, Solar Aid, in 2011. While Solar Aid focuses on installing solar systems into schools across several countries in Africa, SunnyMoney focuses on selling solar lanterns. In just a few years since its launch, SunnyMoney is already reaching sales levels of tens of thousands each month, growing very quickly in Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia. The company employs a unique sales and marketing approach called “The SunnyMoney Way,” which works closely with education authorities, incentivizing head teachers in geographically defined regions to promote the benefits of solar [...]
Where innovation pays off: Helping low-income Haitians access environmentally-friendly energy products
Inter-American Development Bank View Online
Interview with Niki Armacost of Arc Finance and Dominique Policard of Sogexpress about Arc Finance’s Remittances Project in Haiti
NBC Miami & Tropik TV Watch Online
Breaking the Cost Barrier with Pay-As-You-Go Technology to Make Clean Energy Affordable
Big surprises sometimes come in small packages and Angaza Design embodies this maxim. Led by CEO Lesley Silverthorn Marincola, the three-person team had already launched in five countries with its innovative SoLite solar lamp when it encountered the affordability barrier. Unfazed, the team pivoted and turned its engineering skills to developing and testing a new concept in pay-as-you-go solar energy. Lesley spoke to Arc Finance about how the human-centered design and can-do approach of companies such as Amazon – where she worked on the early generations of the Kindle e-reader – can be applied to seemingly [...]
How Pre-Payment and Microfinance Can Build “Micro-Power Economies”
INENSUS is a young, off-grid energy company based in Germany that develops solar/wind-hybrid microgrids for developing countries’ remote rural regions. The company’s “Micro-Power Economy” model, currently being employed in Senegal, centers on supporting both income-generating as well as household energy activities to truly catalyze local village economies.
Arc Finance recently caught up with Jakob Schmidt-Reindahl, managing director of INENSUS’ Senegal operations, to discuss the company’s clients, pre-payment approach, and role that microfinance plays in helping to realize the micro-energy economy.
Financing sustainable energy: An optimistic view from Niki Armacost
Ashden Blog View Online
What Do Solar, Mobile and Microfinance Have in Common? Meet Fenix International.
Fenix International is a Silicon Valley based renewable energy company that designs and manufactures income generating energy solutions for mobile telecoms in emerging markets. The company has developed the ReadySet, a plug-and-play smart battery that charges by solar panels or bicycle dynamo to power mobile phones, lights, and many devices powered by USB or Car Lighter Adapters. The ReadySet is sold by MTN, Africa’s largest mobile phone company, through its network of retail outlets in Uganda. The end customers are micro entrepreneurs who use the ReadySet to make additional income from charging phones in off-grid rural areas.
How Women Are Powering Energy Access in Uganda
Founded in 2010, Solar Sister is an energy company that promotes access to affordable solar lamps and small solar systems in communities in Sub-Saharan Africa. Using an Avon-style distribution system, Solar Sister builds and extends the supply chain through women’s rural networks by providing women with a “business in a bag”: a start-up kit of inventory, training and marketing support.
Arc Finance talks with Katherine Lucey, CEO of Solar Sister, about the process Solar Sister uses to support rural women to become micro-entrepreneurs and how it enables rural women to earn an income in a flexible way, doing as much or little [...]
Clean Energy For All: Strategies For Expanding Access In The Developing World
FOMIN Watch Video
Using Energy Products and Other Initiatives to Spur Growth at a Philippine MFI
Since its founding in 1984, the Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation (NWTF) has explored a range of ways to live up to its mission of helping poor Filipino women achieve self-sufficiency and self-reliance. NWTF offers an impressive array of products, including micro-loans to assist micro-entrepreneurs, insurance and student loans, and continues to look for innovative products and services to meet the needs of its clients and grow the organization.
Arc Finance talks with Raymond Serios, Director of Research at NWFT, about how the MFI embraced energy lending as a way to expand its mission and find new ways to [...]
Making Energy Microfinance Work in the Philippines — a Conversation with Raymond Serios, Special Projects Manager at NWTF
The Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation (NWTF) is a one of the Philippines’ oldest and largest microfinance institutions, serving nearly 140,000 clients across the nation’s central island region. Among institutional practitioners of energy microfinance NWTF is notable for its inventive, trial-and-error approach to problem-solving and program development, and its patient, long-term commitment to building a strong, high impact and commercially sustainable model. In this episode, Raymond Serios provides a nuts and bolts account of how the MFI draws on experimentation, client feedback and a close study of the evolving clean energy market to adapt and build its successful energy lending [...]
Crowd-Sourcing Low Cost Capital Helps MFIs Make the Leap to Energy Lending
Founded in June 2010, Milaap is a Indian start-up based in Bangalore that crowd-sources low-cost capital for microfinance institutions through its online platform as well as social funds, high net worth individuals (HNIs) and corporate partnerships. Funds are not donations, but rather micro-loans between a growing global network of contributors and low-income Indian borrowers. Milaap sources capital exclusively for non-traditional, value-added product portfolios, supporting investments in water and sanitation, vocational training, and SME capital.
In 2011, Milaap added energy lending to its portfolio when it established a partnership with DCBS, a small MFI based in West Bengal (India), and Onergy, a leading solar [...]
Can the microfinance sector help deliver clean energy?
CGAP Download PDF
An Inside Perspective on Change and Evolution In the Micro Solar Sector: A Conversation with Ned Tozun, d.light Design
Product R&D and design, high volume manufacturing, global distribution, sales and marketing – this is the range of one of the world’s best known micro solar companies, d.light. Since 2006, the company has been developing and distributing high-quality, solar portable lighting products to low-income, off-grid customers worldwide. Ned Tozun, d.light’s President and Co-Founder, recently took some time to speak with Arc Finance about the company’s growth, its approach to distribution and marketing, and the role he sees for microfinance in making improved energy affordable for d.light’s target customers.
Nicola Armacost, Oliver Karius and Hampus Jakobsson at SoCap Europe 2012: A Successful Entrepreneur Discovers What’s Different About Impact Investing
SoCap Watch Video
Climate Scope 2012 (featuring Arc’s Haiti Remittances Project)
Inter-American Development Bank Download PDF
$80 Billion Clean Energy Access Opportunity
Sierra Club View Online
Plenary Speech by Nicola Armacost at Global Microcredit Summit
Microcredit Summit Watch Video
Microlending and the Profit Motive
Asia Society Watch Video
Financing Mechanisms for Clean Energy Projects
Inter-American Development Bank Watch Video
Managing Director and Co-Founder Nicola Armacost on Microfinance
Link TV: Television Without Borders Watch Video
Linking solar energy and microfinance
GVEP International Download PDF | View Online
Power Off the Grid: Solar Panels Empower the Rural Poor
MediaGlobal News View Online
Building Solar Pathways to Economic Empowerment in the Developing World
Solar One Watch Video
End-user finance: A guide for sustainable energy enterprises and NGOs
2009 Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy Download PDF
Water for the Poor: What the Private Sector Can Do
Asia Society View Online
Innovations in Microfinance: Tackling the Energy Needs of the Poor
Asia Society View Online