We must place women at the centre of energy access to achieve deeper, wider impact

“We must place women at the centre of energy access to achieve deeper, wider impact” – Ajaita Shah at COP23, Bonn, Germany (14th Nov 2017)

BONN, Germany – If we’re serious about ending energy poverty for the world’s most marginalized populations, more women need to be involved. Lots of them. Throughout the energy value chain. And they need financial support, too.

That’s was the genesis for ground-breaking launch of the People-Centered Accelerator, a global initiative that aims to advance gender equality, social inclusion and women’s empowerment in sustainable energy. The effort, announced on Gender Day at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP23), is being led by Sustainable Energy for All and more than 40 partners from government, civil society, private sector, finance and non-government organizations from across the world.

Representing 1,000 women entrepreneurs from India, Ajaita spoke of the mission for Frontier Markets. “(By 2020), we have a mission of having 10,000 of these rock-star entrepreneurs and reaching millions of households.”

Some excerpts from her speech:

“Over the last decade, I have personally lived in 5,000 villages in India, witnessed rural households suffer from darkness, fear, and instability. Today, after establishing a solid distribution network, I see the real opportunity to bring these communities to clean, safe and reliable electricity to help households boost productivity and become economically empowered to address their particular life challenges.

The team at Frontier Markets has structured integral opportunities for women to play a pivotal role in scaling clean energy access. Over 200,000 women were key in changing their household’s lifestyle by embracing solar. 1,000 of them are now solar entrepreneurs changing their communities to further their own futures by increasing awareness, servicing solar solutions, and earning real income for their families.

In partnership with our NGO networks, we not only envision more than 10,000 women joining this network by 2020 to reach millions of households, we also see a more holistic approach to social and economic empowerment for women. In order to achieve this, it is crucial to bring together the right kinds of capital, and offer financial innovation and partnerships to help support these women. That is why the Accelerator is such an important initiative, we need a work stream that supportive of directing capital to gender-responsive and socially inclusive businesses to support faster delivery of sustainable access solutions.

As a social enterprise, we have found it challenging to attract the right kind of patient capital which assists to scale businesses at the right time. We believe this work stream will bring together all kinds of perspectives, bankers, investors, philanthropists, social enterprises, and most importantly, the women change-makers to design models to leverage capital for the highest impact; innovative thinking, beyond traditional finance, through new tools like recoverable grants, bonds, long-term debt, equity with ESOPs for entrepreneurs, and more.

We look forward to the opportunity to be a part of this incredibly ground-breaking initiative.”

(Ref: www.seforall.org)