That is where public funding plays a vital role. The private sector will drive the future of off-grid solar energy. But like many innovations before it, public funds will play a key role in catalyzing that future. Official Development Assistance (ODA) can overcome the capital gaps and invest in riskier ventures. The backing of ODA can motivate private sector to invest and test new business models that expand energy access.
The UNCDF CleanStart Challenge Fund platform provides this service. It leverages donor funds to co-invest with private sector in innovative business models for energy access. Without the initial investment from public funds, these business models may never have taken hold. For example, our co-investment allowed Greenlight Planet to test and adapt its model to the Myanmar market. Now, the company has a presence in the country, providing energy services to communities previously beyond reach.
Benefits go beyond leveraging public funds. As a neutral institution, UNCDF offers each of its investments access to market data and technical support to succeed. When asked, many companies we have invested in point out the challenge in building local partnerships or accessing and analyzing data to understand market contexts.
An individual company can't solve these issues. With our existing local partnerships and pool of knowledge resources, we can provide the support needed for companies to succeed. For example, our energy ladder research provides insight on how companies can market products to increase purchases.