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GSR 2015 - Business Models

110 05 DISTRIBUTED RENEWABLE ENERGY FOR ENERGY ACCESS n BUSINESS MODELS The use of innovative business models continued to gain momentum in 2014. These include: energy service companies (ESCOs), microfinance and credit, pay as you go, and one-stop-shops. The energy services company (ESCO) model, or “fee for service”, is one in which a customer pays regular fees for use of a renew- able energy system that is owned, operated, and maintained by a supplying company.96 Benefits include good service delivery, professional maintenance, and system replacement in case of default; the downside is that lack of ownership by users can lead to careless handling and damage.97 Increasing numbers of ESCOsi are establishing training academies to increase staff retention, facilitate maintenance, and create local jobs.98 Under the microcredit model (microfinance), purchasers (households, small businesses) take out a small loan from a bank to cover the cost of DRE equipment. This model avoids the high upfront costs usually associated with renewable energy systems since users pay for them in instalments over time.99 Microfinance has proven to be one of the most popular models for disseminating energy systems in the developing world over the past decade.100 In 2014, Haiti, India, and Uganda all relied on microfinance enterprise programmes to expand the availability of consumer financing for solar lanterns and cleaner cookstoves, and Bangladesh continued utilising such programmes to improve the affordability of clean cookstoves, biogas digesters, and SHS.101 SIDEBAR 9. WOMEN AND DISTRIBUTED RENEWABLE ENERGY DRE systems can make a significant contribution to improving the lives of people living in energy poverty, particularly women. The consequences of energy poverty for women are poor health, a life of repetitive, physically demanding tasks, and a shortage of time available for rest, their children, and income-generating activities. Having a smokeless wood or biogas stove provides a clean kitchen while also reducing the time required to collect fuelwood, the burden of carrying heavy loads, and the associated health risks. In Uganda, biogas is reported to reduce the time that women spend on cooking by as much as an hour a day, while also encouraging men to become more involved in preparing snacks and drinks. The good-quality light provided by solar PV and light bulbs (rather than kerosene lanterns or candles) allows women flexibility in managing their days for household chores, reduces energy expenses, and enables children to study in healthier and safer conditions. In Sri Lanka, the lighting provided by solar home systems enabled women to shift certain chores to the night-time, allowing greater flexibility in managing their days. Women in East Africa who replace kerosene with solar lamps save up to 30% of their household expenditure. DRE technologies bring electricity to remote locations, enabling people to use televisions, radios, and mobile phones, and providing other services. These devices and services help women keep in contact with family members working elsewhere, enable them to receive money or pay bills more quickly and less expensively than through traditional banks, and help them to feel a part of the modern world. There is growing recognition in the renewable energy technology supply chain that women are more than consumers in developing countries—they also have a role to play in sales teams and as entrepreneurs. In a survey of 42 renewable energy companies from Asia, Africa, and Latin America, a number of entrepreneurs considered that involving women in the design of equipment (such as improved cookstoves) to be used in the home was an important factor in the ultimate success of their products. In some circumstances, women can be better positioned than their male counterparts to sell products to other female consumers. In Bangladesh, Grameen Shakti (which sells solar home systems, improved cookstoves, and biogas digesters) recruits and trains local women engineers and technicians who are able to build rapport with potential female clients in their own homes, something that would not always be possible for their male colleagues. Unfortunately, women in developing countries face more barriers than men in their efforts to become renewable energy entrepreneurs. For example, women entrepreneurs lack start-up capital and collateral required as security to obtain loans. They also are more likely than men to lack technical and financial knowledge, as well as necessary business skills. In some countries, working with renewable energy technologies is considered to be “men’s work”. Furthermore, if employers are to hire women, they must ensure that their premises and hiring practices are women-friendly. Greenway Grameen Infra in India aimed for women to represent at least 25% of employees selling their stoves, and realised that they needed appropriate sanitation facilities and a flexible hiring policy based on “group hiring”, which enables women to support and substitute for one another when an individual’s family duties prevent her from working. A number of programmes, using a range of different business models, are orientated towards supporting women’s involvement in the renewable energy supply chain. ENERGIA’s Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) Programme supports 3,000 women entrepreneurs who work in the area of energy services delivery; these women aim to reach over 2 million consumers spread across five countries. One of the organisations in the programme is Solar Sister, a social enterprise in East Africa that provides female entrepreneurs with a “business in a bag”: a start-up kit of inventory, training, and marketing support for bringing portable solar technology to households in their communities. Another example is Kopernik (also WEE) in Indonesia, which uses existing kiosks run by women to distribute their solar lanterns. Women working together find solidarity and support to overcome the barriers they face. For example, Khulumani Gogos Going i - Such as Off Grid Electric, BBOXX, EarthSpark International, etc.

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