Publication - Building the Business Case for Women’s Inclusive Financing in Last-Mile Renewable Energy Markets in Sub-Saharan Africa
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electricity. Access to clean energy is not only connected to increased sustainable economic growth, but it also is key to improving human health and well-being and enhancing the lives of women and children. The development and expansion of the renewable energy (RE) sector, especially the off-grid solar (OGS) sector, has been critical to reducing this gap. Ensuring that women have a greater voice in the sector is key to finding better energy solutions for the world’s poorest. This includes improving women’s participation in senior management and employment, as well as increasing women’s sector participation as distributors, sales agents, and end consumers.
One of the key constraints in improving energy access in the renewable energy sector is the availability and affordability of financing. For women-owned or -led micro, small, or medium enterprises (WMSMEs) that are either selling or distributing renewable energy products themselves, or interested in purchasing renewable energy products to expand or grow their businesses, there are several different potential sources of financing, including (1) renewable energy– or gender lens investment–focused impact funds; (2) financial service providers (FSPs), including banks microfinance institutions, cooperatives, and fintech companies; (3) renewable energy product companies that have developed their own consumer financing; (4) crowdfunding platforms, like KIVA and Energise Africa; and (5) grant or challenge fund programs supporting women entrepreneurs. For purposes of this report, the analysis will investigate the demand and supply of financial products and services provided by a select group of financiers to the RE sector, as seen in Figure 1 below, excludes crowdfunding platforms, grants, and challenge funds since they are not a commercially sustainable or scalable source of funding and do not have conventionalfinancial products and services that can be refined/modified to support WMSMEs.