Witnessing the devastation of COVID-19 across the globe over the past year and a half, the importance of decentralized energy access providers has never been more evident. In response, The Shine Campaign launched the COVID-19 Recovery Fund in October 2020. Co-created with the Council of Women Leaders in Energy Access, the fund aims to sustain energy access initiatives that are locally rooted, women-led, and managed and/or directed by local communities.
From a pool of over 264 submissions, 12 recipients from Africa and Asia have been selected as awardees of the COVID-19 Recovery Fund. Two common themes emerged during the rigorous review process.
First, health systems in last-mile communities need to be strong and resilient, and are most needed during this global pandemic. Off-grid communities facing increased demands for refrigeration and cold chain storage of vaccines or medications are looking to solar upgrades to provide lighting and refrigeration for local clinics.
Second, there is a clear need for personal protective equipment (PPE) and support for small, local energy access companies and community organizations. Masks, gloves, and sanitizers, along with workforce payments to sustain salaries and keep energy access staff working, are essential to maintain a clean energy workforce. It is this workforce that will make up the powerful underpinning of COVID recovery and community-based clean energy transition.
The Shine Campaign is proud to support last-mile energy access entrepreneurs, cooperatives, agencies, and communities as they help vulnerable populations struggling with the pandemic and its complex web of impacts.
Shine Campaign’s COVID-19 Recovery Fund is a strong example of the intentionality needed across the sector. Shine’s fund was co-created by a Council of Women Leaders in Energy Access, convened by Shine.
In a demonstrative model of participatory philanthropy, Shine’s Council of Women Leaders in Energy Access developed the criteria and perimeters for the fund. These phenomenal women leaders with decades of experience in gender and the energy sector diligently designed and implemented a careful and rigorous process to review and select awardees. Council members include:
- Ajaita Shah: Founder of Frontier Markets
- Katherine Lucey: Founder of Sister Solar
- Sheila Oparaoche: International Coordinator and Programme Manager of the Energia International Network on Gender and Sustainable Energy
- Sarah Alexander: Senior Advisor of Selco Foundation
- Ellen Dorsey: Executive Director of the Wallace Global Fund
Shine’s COVID-19 Recovery Fund provides grants (average grant size $10,000 or less) to meet the needs of frontline energy access entrepreneurs, cooperatives, agencies, and community leaders as they position the sector and their communities to survive the global pandemic. The target size of the award was set by the Women Leaders Council to meet the particular needs of small-to-medium-sized agencies, those who often have difficulty securing financing. The Fund prioritizes immediate economic relief for micro, small, and medium sized agencies; community based initiatives at the nexus of health and clean energy; pandemic protection equipment and materials for energy access practitioners, solar products for frontline rural or peri-urban healthcare workers, and other activities or materials that will enable energy access enterprises and initiatives to survive the pandemic and its economic impacts.
The fund addresses women’s unequal access to finance and economic opportunities by financing women-led businesses or community organizations that provide community-scale access to clean energy for lighting and productive use — household solar power systems, solar panels for community clinics, solar water or hand washing systems, and solar drying facilities for agricultural products, as well as solar cooling systems for medical purposes or fishing communities. The fund targets women-led micro or small businesses facing a dramatic loss of customers due to lockdowns and market closures or slow-downs as customers cut back on clean energy in order to prioritize food, medicines, or expenses related to the death of family members.
The Shine Covid-19 Recovery Fund Awardees, listed by region, are:
Kalpavriksha Greater Goods is a community based solar energy distributor. KGG provides training and equipment for women clean energy entrepreneurs to implement contactless payment systems in COVID Recovery.
Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC), Philippines
Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities is a Women-Led Community Organization. ICSC provides Solar generators to health centers, training to community health providers and COVID relief and recovery advocacy.
Border Green Energy Team (BGET), Thailand
Border Green Team is a community based refugee rights organization active on the Thailand and Myanmar border. BGET will be providing Solar Panels for community health clinics in refugee resettlement communities.
Bleaglee is a women-led enterprise providing Personal Protective Equipment for women Entrepreneurs to sustain their work as they minimize the health and economic disruptions of COVID in their communities.
Organization for Muslims’ Social Development and Innovations (OMUSDI), Uganda (East Africa)
OMUSDI is a faith-based organization working with vulnerable populations in the Lake Victoria Island region of Uganda. These Island communities are simultaneously facing climate impacts of rising sea levels and severe market disruptions from COVID with food and other scarcities. Funds will be used to provide solar equipment to community health facilities that allow refrigeration and save lives.
CERATH, Ghana (West Africa)
CERATH is an Organization supporting Women Energy Entrepreneurs. CERATH will use funds to provide Personal Protective Equipment for women entrepreneurs and to install permanent solar handwashing stations in high traffic market areas.
Kateta People Living with HIV/AIDS (KAPELA) Uganda (East Africa)
KAPELA is a Community org targeting vulnerable populations. COVID has shown that those most at risk are those with pre-existing health conditions. It is particularly important to meet the needs of these high-risk individuals and their communities. Funds will be used to provide solar powered radios and equipment to support young people impacted by HIV/AIDS with distance learning, COVID awareness training, and personal protective equipment.
Econome, Kenya (East Africa)
Econome is a women led solar energy distribution company. Funds will be used to sustain the all female workforce which has been decimated by the successive waves of COVID.
Daraab Solar Ventures, Nigeria (West Africa)
Daraab is a women-led solar products distribution agency, part of the Solar Sister Network. COVID’s economic toll has disproportionately impacted women in Nigeria and around the world. The loss of lives and livelihoods have left a precarious balance that makes sustaining solar initiatives challenging. Funds will provide core support to sustain women entrepreneurs and keep their initiatives thriving.
Lekeh Development Foundation, Nigeria (West Africa)
Lekeh Development Foundation is a Women-Led Enterprise. Lekeh support for Women-Led small and medium sized enterprises providing Solar Products for Community Health Clinics. Funds will be used for Solar Radios and Clinic upgrades.
E-LICO Foundation, Tanzania (East Africa)
E-Lico Foundation is an energy access incubator in Tanzania, a country devastated by COVID. Funds will be used to upgrade a local clinic with solar power for lighting and refrigeration and to train a local women’s group as a partner to maintain the system. It is these systems that will allow refrigeration of life-saving medicines or vaccines, providing protection from this and future pandemics.
Smiling Through Light, Sierra Leone (West Africa)
Smiling Through Light is a dynamic women led solar light distributor. Funds will be used to sustain a salesforce of women in vulnerable communities devastated by the loss of lives and livelihoods during COVID. It is these resilient women leaders that will be the anchors of COVID Recovery in the region.
Shin Africa Foundation, Uganda (East Africa)
Shin Africa Foundation is a community based organization in rural Uganda. Funds will be used to provide solar equipment to community clinics and solar lighting to community health workers.
These energy champions have limited access to masks, sanitizers, or personal protective equipment, and no access to government stimulus funds or small business loans. The Shine fund targets these women who are truly the backbone of a just transition to a clean energy future.
Initiatives like these not only help improve women’s access to energy in targeted communities, they also support female entrepreneurship and economic opportunities, improving gender equality outcomes on multiple fronts. It is these initiatives that must be sustained to guarantee communities access to clean energy and resiliency in the face COVID-19 and future pandemics.