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.