Global Coalition Launches $80 Million Relief Fund to Protect Energy Access in Vulnerable Communities from COVID-19 Fallout

The Energy Access Relief Fund (EARF), managed by Social Investment Managers and Advisors (SIMA), will provide relief capital in the form of short-term loans to an estimated 90 energy access companies in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia still struggling with disruptions wrought by COVID-19. 

The Energy Access Relief Fund (EARF) is the culmination of an unprecedented partnership convened by Acumen, including CDC Group, U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), FMO, Green Climate Fund (GCF), Shell Foundation, IKEA Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, World Bank, International Finance Corporation (IFC), Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), USAID, and Power Africa.

Broken supply chains, increased costs of solar components, and continued COVID lockdowns have crippled the energy access industry, which provides renewable energy solutions such as solar lanterns, household solar, mini-grids, and modern energy cooking equipment to customers in low-income and last-mile communities. A coalition of committed global investors and donors created the Fund to protect the industry’s progress toward United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 7: universal energy access.

SIMA’s analysis of energy access companies eligible for relief funding across 50 countries shows that 77% of potential borrowers require emergency financial assistance to stay afloat. Without it, many companies may be forced to take drastic measures such as pausing operations, laying off staff, or permanently closing their doors, which would disrupt energy access for customers at a particularly difficult time.

The EARF is an extraordinary example of stakeholders uniting in crisis, even as budgets were constrained and investments were at risk. The Energy Access Relief Fund (EARF) aims to safeguard gains made in the once-booming energy access sector. In the last decade, the industry has grown six-fold, providing 470 million people with energy access, employing more than 370,000 in green jobs and avoiding 74 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

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