Location: International

NextEnergy Foundation has partnered with Ashden to promote clean energy solutions in humanitarian settings. This is a new area of intervention for the Foundation. Ashden is best known for its Ashden Awards which it has run for over two decades to identify enterprises and organisations at the cutting edge of climate innovation and energy access. .

Over 102m people are now forcibly displaced globally – 94% of displaced people in camps do not have access to electricity, and 81% lack energy for clean cooking. There is an urgent need for investment in clean energy solutions developed and led by displaced people themselves to scale energy access in humanitarian settings and achieve UN SDG 7: access to modern, clean, affordable energy for all by 2030.

Ashden has launched the Power to Refugees and Displaced People programme to create a thriving environment for refugee-led energy solutions. The programme has three aims: (1) catalyse solutions by discovering and seeding new enterprises; (2) grow the impact by scaling established solutions; and, (3) shift policy through strategic communications and advocacy. More details about each of these aims is below:

  • Aim 1: Discovering refugee led innovation through the Energising Refugees and Displaced People Award and accelerating the growth of a cohort of aspiring clean energy entrepreneurs (approx. 8). This will include building local capacity and providing seed capital to each organisation. Ashden will also work to increase the visibility of these enterprises.
  • Aim 2: Growth stage enterprises will be supported to replicate and scale their work, through grants of between £25,000-£50,000, via Ashden’s Scaling Fund. Ashden will also enable the participation of the innovators at high-profile international gatherings (e.g., COP28).
  • Aim 3: Deliver a strategic communication campaign in partnership with organisations like the Global Refugee-led Network to amplify inspiring stories and support an enabling environment for the enterprises.

To catalyse solutions and seed new enterprises (Aim 1), NextEnergy Foundation is providing the 2023 Energising Refugees and Displaced People Award winner with funds to invest in developing or scaling its solution. Abid Kazim, one of NEF’s Trustees, is sitting on the judging panels and will have a vote to determine this year’s winner. The two judging meeting will take place on 17th May and 19th July, and the winner will be announced at the Award Ceremony in November.

To grow the impact of established solutions (Aim 2), the Foundation is providing funds to three growth-stage businesses. One of the businesses is the winner of the 2022 Energising Refugees and Displaced People Award, Kakuma Ventures. Kakuma Ventures brings solar-powered internet access to residents in one of the world’s largest refugee camps. More information about the enterprise and its impacts to date can be found here. The second business is the 2021 Award winner, Solar Freeze, which you can read more about here. NEF’s donation will also facilitate the participation of these three innovators at high-profile international gatherings to drive the energy access agenda, such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change COP28.

May 2023 Update: 📢 The shortlist for the Award has been announced. Please visit Ashden’s website to see how we are raising up innovators who are creating powerful change for displaced people and host communities in low-income countries.

October 2023 Update: The third growth-stage business which NEF is helping to grow has now been selected. It is a female-owned and run community micro-grid in Yemen. The micro-grid has been operating for four years, with a generation capacity of 24 kVA, and is run by a group of Yemeni women, led by Iman Ghaleb Hadi Al-Hamli. It has approximately 50 residential customers and will expand access to businesses and households further away from the station with NEF’s support.

Location: International

Ashden launched the Powering Refugees and Displaced People programme to create a thriving environment for refugee-led energy solutions in Sub-Saharan Africa. NextEnergy Foundation supported the programme in 2023 by covering the prize money for the Powering Refugees and Displaced People Award winner and providing grants to three start-ups to establish their solutions.

NextEnergy Foundation is renewing the partnership with Ashden to support grassroots pioneers tackling the humanitarian energy crisis, by providing the winner of the 2024 Energizing Refugees and Displaced People Award with funds to invest in developing, or scaling its solution. Abid Kazim, one of NextEnergy Foundation’s Trustees, is sitting on the judging panel.

The 2024 Ashden Awards finalists for the Powering Refugees and Displaced People are driven by epic climate ambitions and the search for climate justice, lowering emissions and building a fairer world with smart, inclusive solutions for the UK and Global South.

OffGridBox in Rwanda and Uganda:

The OffGridBox is a container with solar panels on top and water purification/desalination system inside. This unit is one solution to three problems: lack of access to energy, lack of access to clean water and lack of access to connectivity. Managed by trained woman form the refugee community it provides households and business with sola power for lighting, phone charging, small business activities as well as power to community centres, dispensaries and classrooms.

Patapia in Uganda:

Patapia responds to the prevailing challenges facing refugees in Uganda by empowering refugee woman and youth to become economically independent. Patapia have applied for their work providing digital microfinance solutions for domestic and commercial solar systems in refugee settlements.

On June 27th, the 2024 Ashden Award winners were announced at a ceremony attended by NEF’s Trustee, Flavia Galdiolo.

The 2024 Ashden ‘Powering Refugees and Displaced People’ Award, which is the Ashden award co-funded by NEF and aimed at supporting grassroots pioneers to tackle the humanitarian energy crisis, was awarded to Patapia, a refugee-led organisation that tackles poverty and gender inequality with its affordable loans to purchase clean power products in Uganda. Please visit Ashden website for more details.

According to Flavia Galdiolo: “The evening was inspirational, with stories from so many entrepreneurs and innovators creating solutions to the climate crisis. From providing affordable loans for refugee women in Uganda to help them to launch and grow businesses powered by green energy, to helping Indigenous communities in rural Tanzania secure the rights to their land, manage it, and create sustainable living from it. The key message was that whatever sunshine or storms await us, backing the champions blazing a trail for powerful, inclusive climate action is fundamental to generate a more sustainable future.”

About Patapia, the winner of 2024 Ashden ‘Powering Refugees and Displaced People’ Award.

Clean energy can spark new or higher earnings for refugee entrepreneurs. But buying equipment such as solar panels, lights, fridges, and electric tools is often difficult. Many banks are reluctant to lend to refugees and don’t understand the economic potential of clean energy. Patapia supports refugee women in Uganda who take out affordable loans to buy clean energy products to launch and grow their own businesses (open snack kiosks, hair salons, and other enterprises) powered by clean energy. With this support displaced women have more chances to build a better future.

Patapia technicians check what energy supply and equipment customers will need, and also give training in using and maintaining it. Women can manage the loans on their phones, and there’s no need for a bank account, collateral, or credit history. The organisation also helps women form ‘business families’, entrepreneur groups with five to ten members who provide guarantees and support for each other. Read more about Patapia’s project in Uganda.