Since its launch in 2016, the Scaling Off-Grid Energy Grand Challenge for Development has taken a multi-pronged approach to accelerating markets for off-grid energy across sub-Saharan Africa. As a partnership between Power Africa, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Shell Foundation, the African Development Bank and the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID), we’ve coordinated a range of direct and indirect funding for off-grid solar companies and financial intermediaries; supported the development of key technologies, and worked to reduce policy and commercial barriers in critical markets. This holistic model for sustaining market acceleration has yielded nearly 3.75 million projected new clean energy connections benefitting over 15 million people.
One of the unique tools USAID brought to the partnership was the Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) open innovation window, which tests and scales creative solutions to global development challenges -- and is currently open for new applications. As one of our first major contributions under Scaling Off-Grid, USAID used DIV to make eight milestone-based grants to promising solar home system companies seeking to either enter a new market, scale in an existing market, or deploy a new technological solution.
Six of these grants met or exceeded their performance goals, creating more than 100,000 connections, validating new products and business models, and producing a host of useful insights for other companies and donors to learn from.
Below, we are pleased to share with you learning reports from the six completed 2016 DIV grants under Scaling Off-Grid: