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    E-Discussion #6 - Innovative Consumer Finance Mechanisms for Small Scale Off-Grid Energy / Part III: Pay-As-You-Go Technologies and Crowdfunding

    1231309 C4D Extraordinaire


      Efforts to provide energy access on a commercial basis to rural populations in developing countries face a range of challenges, including access to finance. Off-grid customers from lower income communities currently pay a high price for purchasing kerosene for basic lighting services and switching to renewable energy based systems would not only save them fuel-costs but also improve their overall quality of life. However, the high upfront cost of the renewable energy based systems (handheld devices and stand-alone systems) restricts them from making this switch. This is identified as a major barrier by all stakeholders committed to the delivery of energy access solutions in a commercially viable manner and at scale. Over the past decade, microfinance institutions, supported by the international development community, have played an important role in providing direct consumer finance for purchase of handheld devices and single home solutions. In addition to microfinance, a number of other innovative end-user finance schemes have emerged in recent years. Building on the findings from [USAID's Renewable Energy Microfinance and Microenterprise Program (REMMP) | http://www.arcfinance.org/remmp.html, and specifically the experience of Arc Finance, this 3 weeks long e-discussion will feature and discuss a number of mechanisms for downstream end-user finance and their integration into innovative energy access business models:

      Week 1 (Feb. 18 - Feb. 25):   Asset finance

      Week 2 (Feb. 25 - Mar. 4):     Microfinance and remittances

      Week 3 (Mar. 4 - Mar. 11):     Pay-As-You-Go Technologies and Crowdfunding



      Expert Moderators

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      Nicola Armacost – Managing Director, Arc Finance (USA)

      Nicola Armacost is the Managing Director of Arc Finance; formed in the spring of 2008 to expand access to finance for clean energy and water. Niki has over 19 years experience in development with a focus on financing solutions for the poor; from 1993 to 2008, she worked at Women’s World Banking, a global microfinance network where she held a number of senior management roles. Niki is an advisor to a number of finance and energy organizations globally and is the Co-Chair of the SE4all Investment and Finance Working Group of the Practitioner Network. She also serves on the Board of MISFA (the donor consortium for microfinance in Afghanistan). She has provided tailored technical assistance, presented papers, given lectures and run conferences and exchanges on financing mechanisms for clean energy all over the world. Niki holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations from the University of Toronto, Canada, an LLB from Queen's University, Canada and an LLM from the Osgoode Hall Law School, Canada.


      Pamela Baldinger – Energy Advisor, USAID (USA)

      Pamela Baldinger currently serves as Energy Edvisor in the Energy Division of the Bureau of Economic Growth, Education and Environment at USAID. She specializes in clean energy programs, designing and managing programs in such areas as renewable energy, clean cookstoves, and cross-sectoral programs involving health, humanitarian assistance, and economic growth. She is the USAID manager of the Renewable Energy Microfinance and Microenterprise Program (REMMP) implemented by Arc Finance, and helped create two Development Credit Authority guarantees supporting small-scale renewable energy devices.



      Supporting Material

      Watch the introductory webinar:          Consumer Finance for Small Scale Off-Grid Energy Webinar - Feb. 18, 2014

      Download the webinar presentation:  N. Armacost - P. Baldinger / Webinar Presentation - Feb. 18, 2014





      Expert Contributors

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      Mr. Mitra Ardron – Chief Executive Officer, Lumeter Networks (Peru / Zambia / India)

      Mr. Mitra Ardron is the Chief Executive Officer of Lumeter Networks, a company that offers affordable pre-paid electricity meters to renewable energy companies so that they can provide power to the off-grid rural poor in developing countries. His career is focused on bridging technology, business and emerging economies; with two decades of clean technology, internet and emerging market commercialization experience.  Prior to Lumeter, Mitra supported, incubated and invested in innovators whose ideas demonstrated practicable potential to achieve significant impact to alleviate poverty and environmental harm in both the developed and developing world. Mitra’s previous experience also includes managing a solar company that pioneered community purchasing in Australia, developing core protocols for the Internet, and co-founding the Association for Progressive Communications, which supported the development of the Internet in emerging economies. Mitra holds a Master of Computer Sciences from Cambridge University.


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      Mr. Simon Bransfield-Garth – Chief Executive Officer, Azuri Technologies (East Africa)

      Mr. Simon Bransfield-Garth is the Chief Executive Officer of Azuri Technologies, a product and service company that delivers affordable solar power in emerging markets. Azuri combines mobile phone and solar technology to provide solar-as-a-service by which the user pays for the usage of the solar product by purchasing weekly scratchcards. Simon has 25 years global experience building rapid growth, technology-based businesses, including 7 years at Symbian, the phone OS maker, where he was a member of the Leadership Team and VP Global Marketing. He was founder of Myriad Solutions Ltd and was formerly an Industrial Fellow at the London based Royal Society.  He holds a BA and Ph.D in Engineering from Cambridge University in the UK and was named a Global Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum in 2013.


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      Mr. Paul Needham – President and Co-Founder, Simpa Networks (India)

      Paul Needham is an InfoTech entrepreneur with over 12 years of senior leadership experience. In 1999, Paul quit the Economics PhD program at Cambridge University to co-found MeMail.com, a publisher of news and entertainment content delivered to the email inboxes of subscribers. In 2001, Paul co-founded an innovative online advertising network called BidClix, which was sold to Accipiter Solutions. Paul helped negotiate the sale of Accipiter to aQuantive, which was acquired by Microsoft. Paul joined Microsoft as Director of APS Canada, with responsibility for launching Microsoft’s online advertising network business in Canada. Paul then became Director of Network Strategy with responsibility for guiding the development of overarching strategies for Microsoft’s international advertising network businesses. Paul is also on the board of directors of CAMFED USA (Campaign for Female Education), a not-for-profit organization that tackles poverty and HIV/AIDS by investing in the education of girls in Africa. Paul holds a M.Phil. in Economics and Politics of Development from Cambridge University, UK and a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, Canada.


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      Ms. Lesley Marincola – Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Angaza Design (East Africa)

      Ms. Lesley Marincola is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Angaza Design, a company that is enabling prepaid energy so as to change the energy economics of the off-grid world. Lesley’s vision is to solve the world’s most widespread problems, like energy access, with market-driven technology innovation developed from a human-centered design approach. Prior to her work at Angaza, Lesley worked at Amazon (Lab126) with the Amazon Kindle design team, and at Bay Area design consultancy, D2M Inc. with clients including DirecTV, Genentech, Qualcomm, and Volkswagen. Lesley was named a 2012 Tech Awards Laureate, in recognition of Angaza’s pay-as-you-go solar technology, was named a Forbes “30 Under 30” Entrepreneur, and was a 2013 Echoing Green Fellow. She holds a Bachelor degree in Product Design and a Master in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University.



      Mr. Chris Neidl – Crowd Funding and PayG Specialist, Arc Finance (India)

      Chris Neidl is Arc Finance’s India Program Manager, coordinating the organization’s technical assistance and investment activities across a diverse portfolio of microfinance partners engaged in energy finance. Chris has worked in the renewable energy sector since 2003. Prior to joining Arc in 2010, he served as the Advocacy Director for Solar One, a New York-based not-for-profit organization. In this role, he organized several city and statewide campaigns in support of pro-renewable energy policies. These efforts contributed to a number of key legislative victories that resulted in policies favorable to renewable energy adoption and investment. Chris has also served as an adviser on solar energy-related policy matters for members of the U.S. House of Representatives, the New York State legislature, and the New York City Council. His writing has been featured in the journal Solar Today, CGAP’s Microfinance Blog and the popular online magazine Treehugger. A native of Albany, New York, Chris earned his BA in Urban Geography and Planning from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, and his MA in public policy from New York University. He is currently based in Pune, Maharashtra.


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      Mr. Sameer Halai - Co-founder and Chief Design Officer (CDO), Sun Funder (USA)

      Mr. Sameer Halai leads product design, development and research at SunFunder, a crowdfunding platform that provides finance for affordable solar energy solutions to underserved communities around the world.  Sameer started at Microsoft working on Windows Live Messenger with 300 million users before moving to the Future Social Experiences incubation lab at Microsoft Research where he worked on products like Dotastic, Docs and Socl.  Most recently, he was Director of User Experience at Limeade, a startup in Seattle, where he helped define the future of healthcare and wellness incentive systems. He was born and raised in Bombay and has a Masters in Social Computing, (the intersection of people, society and technology). Sameer is excited about leveraging human connections around the world to create scalable and sustainable solutions.


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      Ms. Saheba Sahni – Portfolio Manager for South Asia, Kiva (Global)

      Ms. Saheba Sahni is Kiva’s Portfolio Manager for South Asia, responsible for managing relationships with existing field partners, growing Kiva’s presence in the region through due diligence on potential partners, and developing a strategy for Kiva to enter into India. Saheba joined Kiva after working at PlaNet Finance India, where she managed consulting and technical assistance projects for microfinance institutions and banks, ‘microfinance-plus’ initiatives in education and health, and sector development initiatives like the Microfinance Process Excellence Awards. Prior to her time at PlaNet Finance India, Saheba worked at SKS Microfinance, where she focused on strategy and business analysis and piloted a deworming project through the SKS NGO, in partnership with Deworm the World. Saheba holds a degree in International Studies with a minor in Theology from Boston College.


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      Mr. Sourabh Sharma Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Milaap (India / Singapore)

      Mr. Sourabh Sharma is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Milaap.org, a crowdfunding platform that raises loan capital for Indian microfinance institutions (MFIs) engaged in energy, education, clean water access and other forms of essential service lending. Sourabh  is a technology entrepreneur with a passion for businesses that firmly have a positive social impact in the world. With a deep knowledge of mobile data services, he started his first company MicroAppli (a mobile applications startup), straight out of college.  After leaving MicroAppli, Sourabh spent several years in leadership and managerial positions in the corporate sector in India before ultimately launching Milaap.org. As CEO of Milaap, he directs all key strategic company initiatives from fundraising to product development to customer support to operations.  Sourabh is passionate about mass-market activation for bringing convenience to people. For him, Milaap is an extension of this passion, an opportunity to involve the masses in bringing convenience to the poor with every loan made. Sourabh holds a Bachelor in Computer Science from the National University of Singapore.




      Please click on the following links to download the corresponding briefing notes: