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Pact Ventures Launches Revamped Impact Investment Group

Posted By Katie Hallaran, Pact, Monday, December 10, 2018

Pact is excited to announce the launch of its revamped social investment team – Pact Ventures. Pact Ventures believes that markets and private capital can be incentivized to accelerate Pact’s development programs. We structure innovative financing and market-based mechanisms to magnify Pact’s social impact.

Through technical experience in investment banking, private equity, strategy, and social entrepreneurship, we’re integrating private sector perspectives to create tri-sector solutions for complex development challenges by leveraging public, private, and social capital.

Leading with a clean sheet approach, Pact Ventures accesses a wide spectrum of innovative financial and investment vehicles to finance our projects, deliberately matching outcomes risk with financial return. We leverage our impact investments to shift our relationship from donor-beneficiary to provider-customer. In so doing, we tap into economic forces to create market mechanisms that listen and adapt to the voices of our beneficiaries (now customers) in new, empowering ways through:

Outcomes-based and shared value partnerships:

  • Market-based incentives for responsible and traceable sourcing of minerals and gems
  • Access to bottom of the pyramid (BoP) financial products for community-based savings and loans groups

Direct investments in promising social enterprises:

  • Investment in solar home system manufacturer targeting BoP consumers
  • Joint venture with alternative BoP credit scoring and digital distribution services

Innovative business and delivery models for impact:

  • Distribution of solar home system partners to bring renewable energy to Pact’s beneficiaries
  • Workforce development platform for skills-based training and job placement 

We’d love to explore opportunities to collaborate and invite anyone interested in learning more to reach out to Brian Vo at

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Tags:  Access to Finance  energy  health  impact investing  innovative finance  social enterprise  social impact 

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​Agora Partnerships Launches Application for 2017 Accelerator Cycle 2 Class

Posted By Elysa Neumann, Agora Partnerships, Thursday, March 9, 2017

Agora Partnerships has launched applications for its 2017 Accelerator program.
Through its flagship Accelerator program, Agora Partnerships strives to accelerate the shift to a sustainable economy by providing entrepreneurs who are intentionally building businesses that solve social and environmental challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean with the resources they need to grow. Since 2011, 125 companies working in 19 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have participated in the Agora Accelerator, raising USD $52MM in capital and creating over 5,000 jobs. This year, in solidarity with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Agora Partnerships is aligning our Accelerator tracks to advance the SDGs.
The Accelerator is a 4-month program designed to provide high-potential entrepreneurs with the knowledge, network and access to capital necessary to create system change, through in-depth, personalized, 1:1 consulting; access to the Agora Partnerships’network of mentors, investors, and capital opportunities; and a global community of peers.
Agora’s Accelerator program is designed for companies who are solving social and environmental challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean, matching the following criteria: 
  • early or growth stage, past proof-of-concept; 
  • currently looking for investment to scale; 
  • legally incorporated as a for-profit structure with basic accounting systems in place; 
  • average annual income of USD $50K to $2MM; and, 
  • with a clear, measurable and sustainable impact.
Agora Partnerships looks to work with entrepreneurs who embody the leadership qualities of agency, empathy, curiosity and perseverance.
To apply to Agora Partnerships’ 2017 Accelerator click here.
Agora Partnerships is a network committed to leveling the playing field for entrepreneurs by finding innovative ways to drive more human, social, and financial capital to the leaders and ideas that will make our world a better place. To learn morevisit:

Tags:  Acceleration  accelerators  Agriculture  Business  Caribbean  central america  energy  Entrepreneurship  Environment  impact  impact investing  impact investment  innovation  Latin America  nicaragua  SGBs; Environment; accelerators; energy  small and growing agrobusiness  social ent  social enterprise  social entrepreneurship  social impact  sustainability  talent  Women 

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Off-Grid Refrigerator Partnership

Posted By Anne Stewart, Jibu, L3C, Thursday, November 3, 2016

Fellow ANDE Members: if you are interested in applying for the Global Leap competition for an Off-Grid Refrigerator solution,  Jibu would be happy to discuss partnership. While Jibu does not have refrigerator technology, we have a successful sales & distribution model in East Africa implementing innovative water filtration technology. Please email <> if interested. 

Global Leap Awards: Off – Grid Refrigerator Competition.

The Global Lighting and Energy Access Partnership (Global LEAP), in partnership with USAID's U.S. Global Development Lab, Power Africa, and DfID has launched a joint call for high efficiency, low-cost off-grid refrigeration solutions. This call for proposals is part of the 2016-17 Global LEAP Awards Program, and is the first investment focused on stimulating innovation under Scaling Off-Grid Energy: A Grand Challenge for Development. The competition aims to increase the availability of high-efficiency, low-cost, high-demand refrigeration technologies, and in turn drive demand for off-grid solar solutions, such as solar home systems and mini-grids. Submit nominations by January 20, 2017.
For more information, please click here.

Tags:  East Africa  energy  Entrepreneurship  fridge  Jibu  refrigerator  water 

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Universal Energy Access White Paper: An Enterprise System Approach

Posted By Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Santa, Wednesday, December 9, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, December 9, 2015

As world leaders meet in Paris to discuss how to keep the Earth’s temperature from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius at COP21, one discussion thread that has emerged is “climate justice”: How do developing countries obtain the energy they need to fuel their economic aspirations? These are the countries least responsible for climate change crisis we face. Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship believes that solving the problem of energy access starts with reframing the problem. When it is reframed, it becomes possible to envision and enact more viable solutions.


Keying off one of the main thrusts of the recent climate encyclical by Pope Francis, Miller Center is helping to refocus efforts in Silicon Valley and beyond to solving energy poverty — the lack of safe, affordable energy — for 2.6 billion people globally, or one-third of the human population. Miller Center is joined in this endeavor by social entrepreneurship organizations worldwide that include Shell Foundation, the World Bank, Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, and the Solar Electric Light Company (SELCO) India.


“We believe that solving the problem of sustainable energy access requires reframing the problem: Instead of seeing the 2.6 billion sufferers of energy poverty as potential aid recipients, we see a total market of more than 500 million potential consumers for public and private energy solutions,” said Thane Kreiner, Ph.D., executive director, Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship. “By reframing the issue in this way, it becomes an ideal focus for locally based enterprises, which also provide dignified livelihoods. In fact, we would go a step further and declare that it’s a moral imperative for successful entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley to apply their skills and proven practices to help eradicate the suffering of the world’s poorest people, who will be most impacted by climate change.”


Despite billions of development and charity dollars spent on energy access by government aid agencies, foundations and corporations, the fact remains that billions of poor people lack the energy they need to survive and thrive. Miller Center has synthesized tangible steps to encourage and support social enterprises that provide clean energy access, presenting them in a new white paper, Universal Energy Access: An Enterprise System Approach


Addressing the Human Needs of Energy Poverty

Energy poverty takes many forms and has devastating effects on the world’s poor. For example:

  • Studies have found that children doing homework by the light of a smoky kerosene lamp do as much damage to their lungs as a two-pack-a-day cigarette smoker. (Source: World Health Organization, Lighting Africa Report)
  • Globally, household air pollution from cooking kills more than 4 million people every year and sickens millions more. (Source: World Health Organization)
  • Collecting cooking fuels is often a labor-intensive burden borne by women and children that results in deforestation.
  • 1.3 billion people lack access to even small amounts of electricity, and another billion lack access to reliable electricity.

At the same time, social enterprises are already making a significant dent in the problem. Examples include:

  • The solar home systems sold by Iluméxico, a Mexican social enterprise, increase family incomes by 20 percent.
  • Eco-Fuel Africa’s green charcoal saves 19,000 families $3.4 million in energy expenses while mitigating over 500,000 tons of CO2 emissions.
  • School performance has improved 25 percent for children who have solar lighting in their homes. (Source: Ilumexico, the Centre for Public Health at Liverpool John Moores University)

“In addition to the sustainable energy solutions and services we provide to underserved households and businesses, we are dispelling three myths associated with sustainable technology and rural customers: 1) Poor people cannot afford sustainable technologies; 2) poor people cannot maintain sustainable technologies; and 3) social ventures cannot be run as commercial entities,” said Harish Hande, chairman of SELCO-India. “The more than 300,000 households (at least 1.2 million people) who have purchased our solar energy systems would argue otherwise.”


“We are creating a thriving global market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions that save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women, and protect the environment,” said Radha Muthiah, chief executive officer, Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. “Our market-based approach allows us to address household air pollution at a scale that can have a meaningful impact. We’re marching toward our goal of 100 million households adopting clean and efficient cookstoves and fuels by 2020.”


“We believe that sustainable energy globally is both the biggest challenge and the biggest opportunity of our time,” said Sarah Butler-Sloss, founder director of Ashden. “The Ashden Awards program showcases and celebrates the success of energy trailblazers and social enterprises that are rolling out sustainable energy solutions to those who need them most, and the award winners have transformed the lives of more than 45 million people in the UK and developing countries since 2001."


“Through analysis of reports by important participants throughout the energy access sector, we have seen strong agreement with and support for the four-tactic strategy we present in our enterprise system approach,” said Andrew Lieberman, director of new programs at Miller Center. “While the roles and some specifics of these ecosystem actors vary, collectively they point to the emerging consensus we believe already exists for focusing on establishing and scaling energy enterprises as the best way to address energy poverty.”


About the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship

Founded in 1997, Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship is one of three Centers of Distinction at Santa Clara University. Miller Center accelerates global, innovation-based entrepreneurship in service to humanity. Its strategic focus is on poverty eradication through its three areas of work: The Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI), Impact Capital, and Education and Action Research. To learn more about Miller Center or any of its social entrepreneurship programs, visit


About Santa Clara University

Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its more than 9,000 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business and engineering; master’s degrees in business, education, counseling psychology, pastoral ministry and theology; and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.’s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, California’s oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see


Tags:  energy  Social Entrepreneurship  sustainable energy 

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CrossBoundary Energy Fund I raises $8M - First dedicated fund for C&I solar in Africa

Posted By CrossBoundary, Monday, December 7, 2015

CrossBoundary Energy today announced the first close of CrossBoundary Energy Fund I, Africa’s first dedicated fund for Commercial & Industrial solar. Over the next 18 months, the fund will deploy over $25M to build solar facilities to power African enterprises through the SolarAfrica platform.

Due to a dramatic fall in cost, solar is now a viable alternative energy source for businesses in Africa. But it needs finance to be attractive.

Across Africa, economic growth is stifled by expensive and unreliable electricity. This challenge represents an immense opportunity for investment. Matt Tilleard, co-Managing Partner of CrossBoundary observed, “Africa is undergoing an energy revolution and has become a laboratory for pioneering new methods of energy delivery. A key driver of this has been the dramatic fall in cost of solar power – down by over 80% since 2008. Solar is now often cheaper than the grid in a majority of African countries”

Jake Cusack, co-Managing Partner at CrossBoundary, noted that “For many of the businesses that drive Africa’s growth, solar power is now an alternative source of cheaper and cleaner energy. However adoption remains low due to two barriers. First, solar has a substantial upfront cost. Without financing, solar installers are typically only able to offer upfront purchase of the solar system.  This means that the customer has to pay the full cost of 25 years of electricity on the first day. Second, many customers are unfamiliar with solar and reluctant to take responsibility for the technical and operational details of the system.”

Mr Tilleard said, “In markets such as the US, both these barriers were removed through the introduction of financed solar solutions. Instead of paying upfront, the financier builds the solar asset and the customer enters into a long term Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). With today’s announcement, we are bringing the same financed solar solutions to Africa. Financing is now available to make cheaper, cleaner energy a reality for African enterprise.”

Empowering project developers through the SolarAfrica platform

CrossBoundary Energy will deploy its investment capital through SolarAfrica, a platform that provides solar installers a fully financed ‘PPA in a box’ to offer customers. SolarAfrica brings together CrossBoundary Energy’s financing with technical oversight and asset management services from NVI Energy. Through SolarAfrica, CrossBoundary Energy allows solar installers to offer Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) to African firms – enabling them to pay for the solar assets over time, just as they would pay for grid electricity or diesel fuel.

Mr Tilleard said “SolarAfrica already has a strong network of partners and we are actively looking for new installers or developers who are interested in offering a financed solar solution to their potential customers. We are currently in operation in Kenya and are hoping to expand to up to three additional countries in the next three to six months. Our funding is available for solar projects above 100 kWp that serve commercial and industrial customers.”

A ground-breaking transaction

CrossBoundary Energy has raised US$8m in equity to provide solar power for African enterprises. After debt leverage, CrossBoundary Energy Fund I intends to invest a total of over US$25m in solar assets over the next 18 months.

Mr Cusack observed, “The fund is a unique and innovative financing platform that will pioneer an entire new asset class in Africa. It is backed by a prestigious group of investors from the USA and Australia attracted both by the commercial returns and the opportunity for positive environmental and economic impact.” Investors include Blue Haven Initiative, TreeHouse Investments and Ceniarth.

Power Africa has been a crucial supporter of CrossBoundary Energy. Through Power Africa, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) provided an early-stage grant to support establishment costs and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) provided a $1.3M first-loss contribution to the fund. Mr Tilleard noted that this “was a groundbreaking innovation by USAID that helped attract private investors to this opportunity.”

In addition, the Shell Foundation, an independent charity, has also provided grant funding and business support to accelerate CrossBoundary's expansion into markets outside of Kenya and lay the groundwork for follow-on funds.

The transaction was led by Chadbourne & Parke LLP with local counsel support from the Africa Legal Network and Viva Africa. Ikenna Emehelu, a partner at Chadbourne said: "We helped solar companies create a market for distributed energy in the US.  We have seen that mass-market adoption of renewable energy occurs not when technology becomes available, but when it becomes affordable. By pooling institutional capital to finance upfront installation costs of solar systems, CrossBoundary has made solar affordable for the malls, hotels, schools and small businesses it serves in Africa.  Chadbourne congratulates the CrossBoundary team whose tenacity and vision has unlocked a promising new market in Africa."

CrossBoundary Energy’s first investment pioneers new ground in East Africa

At fund close CrossBoundary Energy also announced that its first major investment is an 858 kWp solar installation at the newly opened Garden City Mall in Nairobi. Mr Tilleard announced “It is the largest rooftop solar system in East Africa and the largest solar carport system in Africa. It is also the largest solar PPA that we are aware of with a private consumer in Sub-Saharan Africa.   This is an exciting first step on CrossBoundary Energy and SolarAfrica’s mission to introduce solar-as-service to African enterprises.”


Providing clean energy for African businesses represents a major commercial and environmental opportunity. The development of innovative energy financing and business models in Africa means the continent could have smarter, cleaner and more decentralized electricity infrastructure than developed countries. Mr Cusack noted that “Through the first dedicated fund for Commercial & Industrial solar, CrossBoundary Energy hopes to help Africa take a clean path to development through a transition to improved infrastructure and increased economic productivity with minimized environmental impact.”


About CrossBoundary

CrossBoundary is an innovative investment firm that provides transaction and economic advisory services to help unlock capital for positive change in underserved markets. The firm was founded in 2011 and has worked across a range of frontier markets and also developed innovative mechanisms to attract investment in fragile states affected by conflict such as Afghanistan and Mali. Recently, the firm has launched CrossBoundary Energy, the first dedicated investment fund for commercial and industrial solar in Africa. 


Tags:  africa  Business Models  Capital Aggregation  East Africa  energy  finance  Financing Mechanisms  impact investing  impact investment  Investors  Kenya  Private sector development  sustainability  sustainable energy 

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Choosing markets for clean energy access

Posted By Sanjoy Sanyal, Regain Paradiso Initiatives, Sunday, December 21, 2014


The off-grid electricity market in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa is large with more than 300 million people living without access to electricity. With such a large market, how do enterprises decide upon which small geographical area to focus? Is the market selection based on a robust methodology or more of a blindfolded dart game? Should companies focus on a small niche market or is there a need for diversification from day one of operations?

From our experience, a matrix of choices determine where enterprises choose to work. Some choose areas where they have strong family ties. Some are directed to areas designated as “un-electrified” villages. Some entrepreneurs focus on the poorest areas to create impact. We, on the other hand, advocate a strong analytical approach to choosing the geographical area of operation. Rural areas are remote and in need of electricity, but this need does not often translate to demand. The penetration of Distributed Renewable Energy (DRE) products and services is limited.

We believe enterprises should focus on relatively small areas at the district level (administrative units within a state) where there is a clear demand and capacity to invest in these solutions. In our Micro-Markets analysis, we have identified these target geographical markets and districts. Our analysis is explained here with data from India and our purpose of writing this blog is to seek organizations and individuals to explore adapting this methodology to East Africa.    

In India, we start with states where the majority of rural population lives in darkness. The states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Orissa and Assam had rural un-electrification rates (un-electrified rural households/total rural households) between 50-90 percent in 2011. Un-electrification rates were as high as 90 percent in rural Bihar in 2011. But rural solar penetration in these states was less than 1 percent. The central India belt of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and western state of Rajasthan was slightly better off. They had rural un-electrification rates between 25-50 percent with equally low solar penetration rates.

Since no one is queing up to buy a solar home system, identify the early adopter micro-market

The early adopter market for DRE products will be un-electrified areas where access to finance already exists, where there is relative economic buoyancy but where the grid growth has been sluggish. We use this set of criteria to identify our target districts within each state. (For economic buoyancy, we checked how asset ownership data for television and motorized vehicles has changed over 10 years, that is, from 2001-2011). Access to bank finance is critical as most Solar Home System (SHS) companies use bank loans to finance consumer purchases. The grid expansion rate is important, as the reluctance to invest in DRE products is related to the risk associated with the redundancy of these products once the grid comes in.

There are 321 districts (with 67.6 million households across these 10 states where the rural un-electrification rate was more than 25 percent. But that is not the market. Applying the criteria that we have developed, the addressable market encompasses 80 districts with 15.9 million households or 23 percent of the 67.6 million households. The battle for clean energy will be won or lost in these 80 districts.    

Focus on the district/micro-market to achieve meaningful revenue

In our experience, enterprises that start looking at villages to begin operations spread too quickly to new geographies across multiple districts or even across states. As a result, they end up spreading their resources too thin.

We strongly advocate that companies should focus on one district at a time, which we refer to as the “micro-market”.  There are enough opportunities and challenges in any one district. 

Take (just arbitrarily) the district of Gorakhpur in Eastern Uttar Pradesh. The rural un-electrification rate was as high as 68 percent in 2011, with 380,000 rural households living in the darkness without access to the grid and solar systems. 79 percent of the rural households in Gorakhpur had access to banking services and the district exhibited strong economic growth between 2001-2011 (by our parameters). Un-electrification fell by only 4.9 percent over this period, but the penetration of solar systems was less than 1 percent.

10 percent of the un-electrified rural households translates into a market of ~ 38,000 solar systems in Gorakhpur district alone. The size of a solar system will vary by household. At an average price of INR 10,000 for a 20-watt system with two LED bulbs and one mobile charger, the market size is equivalent to INR 38 Crore or USD $6.3 million. This is a conservative scenario where we have assumed that the penetration of solar products is limited to 10 percent. We have also discounted the fact that villagers may opt for the costlier, larger SHSs instead of smaller 20-watt systems. Even with these very conservative assumptions, an enterprise can generate INR 38 Crore from one micro-market or one district.

In our experience, there is one enterprise that has been working with this strategy to develop a sharp focus on one district. Mera Gao Power has been developing its micro grid market and scaling up operations within two blocks of the Sitapur district. This is a clear example of adoption of the micro-market strategy.

Partnerships can be developed in the micro-markets to reach scale

The district level micro-market approach allows companies to identify and foster key partnerships specifically with managers of lead PSU and Regional Rural Banks who are located at the district town level. It allows companies to develop partnerships with local administrative layers and with community organizations. The district town is the place to locate dealers and service centers. Finally (and perhaps most importantly) it allows to sharply focus the tiny budgets these companies have, on marketing. The products have to be sold, for which companies need to spend money on advertising in local cinemas, village markets, hoarding and cable television inserts.          

Identify a micro-market within a cluster

In most of the states we analyzed, the highly un-electrified districts are concentrated in a region forming a cluster. In Orissa four districts form a cluster in the northern part of the state. The rural areas of southern Madhya Pradesh across eleven districts starting from Ratlam in the west and stretching to Jabalpur in the east form another cluster. Clusters also exist across ten districts in southern Maharashtra (stretching from Jalna to Kolhapur) and three districts in southern Chhattisgarh.

One giant cluster sprawls across the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. 28 districts (starting from Faizabad) in eastern Uttar Pradesh and western Bihar (starting from Gopalganj in the north to Gaya in the south) form one giant cluster with 9.7 million rural un-electrified households. This cluster alone accounts for 61 percent of our target market.  

While thinking of where to pick that “one” micro-market/district to bet their fortunes, clean energy enterprises should assess the access to banking institutions in these clusters and the political, economical, behavioral issues that impact the market.  

This is perhaps the only way innovation works

Geoffrey Moore in his book, Crossing the Chasm, identified the need for early adopter markets. The challenge for clean energy enterprises is to find early adopter markets of aspiring households in what are very challenging areas. It is by no means an easy challenge, but the parameters that we propose could be among several to use.  From a micro to a mainstream market, the only way is to navigate across a cluster.               


Tags:  Data analysis  Dataset  energy  impact investing  Social entrepreneurship  sustainability 

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