This publication summarizes the findings of the Energy Links project, piloted by CFI and financed by USAID’s Microenterprise Development Office and the Wallace Global Fund. The goal of the project was to examine how the microfinance sector in Africa can work to alleviate energy poverty by providing access to small-scale clean energy.  This paper first goes through some of the steps for determining the specific energy needs of an area and deciding on the most cost-effective and efficient solutions.  The paper then highlights some ways to encourage MFIs to facilitate energy access and to overcome potential challenges that they may face.  These challenges include clients’ unwillingness to invest in clean energy and limitations of energy companies.  The report further discusses the supply chain for clean energy products.  The researchers conclude by describing overall significant lessons from the Energy Links project.

Elisabeth Rhyne

Former Managing Director

From its founding in 2008 until retiring in 2019, Elisabeth Rhyne was the Managing Director of CFI. As senior vice president of Accion since 2000, Beth led Accion’s initial entry into Africa and India, directed the organization’s research efforts to develop new financial products, and managed Accion’s publications and educational activities. Recognized as a leading thinker and writer in the field of microfinance, Beth has published numerous articles and four books on the topic, including Mainstreaming Microfinance: How Lending to the Poor Began, Grew and Came of Age in Bolivia (Kumarian Press, 2001). She was also co-editor of The New World of Microenterprise Finance (Kumarian, 1994), which provided the introduction to microfinance for many of the field’s current professionals. Beth was director of the Office of Microenterprise Development at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) from 1994 to 1998, where she developed and led USAID’s Microenterprise Initiative. While there, she contributed to the founding of the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) and the Boulder Institute of Microfinance. Beth’s experience includes eight years of residence in Africa (Kenya and Mozambique) and independent consulting on microfinance policy and operations for governments, international organizations and microfinance institutions. She holds a master’s and Ph.D. in public policy from Harvard University. She earned a bachelor’s degree in history and humanities from Stanford University.

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