Developing energy enterprises

GVEP is helping small energy businesses to grow in order to expand energy access in developing countries. We develop and manage various programmes to support the growth of these enterprises by providing them with business and technical advice, as well as helping them access capital.

Find out more about our programmes :

CARE2 – Capital Access for Renewable Energy Enterprises 

Rahel Shigella  runs a thriving improved cookstove business in TanzaniaIn low-income countries, access to finance and lack of capital are a major constraint to the growth of micro, small and medium sized enterprises.

The CARE2 programme aims to improve capital access in the renewable energy markets of four East African countries: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda.

This $7 million facility is supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).

Starting in September 2012, this 3-year programme consists in a combination of interventions designed to increase both the supply of capital to businesses, and their capacity to deploy that capital effectively.

CARE2 comprises of an Advisory Services Team providing advice to businesses seeking capital, as well as an extension of our Loan Guarantee activities and several sector-focused enterprise development projects. This programme will focus heavily on women as one of its priorities is to address gender issues.

CIC – Kenya Climate Innovation Centre

View from the CIC officeGVEP is one of the lead members of the consortium selected by the World Bank to set up and run the world’s first Climate Innovation Centre (CIC) in Nairobi, Kenya.

This $10 million initiative will provide business incubation services and early stage capital to young business in the renewable energy and climate adaptation space in East Africa.

The centre will also provide business and technical advice and services, access to facilities and small start-up grants, as well as access to seed capital investment.

Launched on 26th September 2012, the Kenya CIC is hosted by the Strathmore Business School, in collaboration with GVEP, PwC and the Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute (KIRDI). The Kenya CIC is supported by infoDev (World Bank) in partnership with the Danish and British (via UKAid) governments. It’ll be seeded by a contribution of $15 million over five years. 

ESME - Supporting Energy SMEs in sub-Saharan Africa 

Masimeru micro hydro project in Rwanda

The Supporting Energy SMEs Project is a $30 million programme funded by the Russian government, managed through the World Bank, and covering Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Senegal.

Our activities include: assisting developers of mini-grids and small hydro systems to finance and deliver their projects, supporting the development of the solar PV market, and providing capacity building and technical assistance to government agencies.

A US$500,000 from OFID is co-financing the development of a 3MW hydropower plant near the rural village of Nyundo in northern Rwanda. The project will increase the national power generation capacity of 4%, equivalent to the power consumption of a further 13,000 households in rural Rwanda.

In Senegal the use of energy that enhances people’s productivity and economic activities is the specific focus.

In Kenya, GVEP is providing grants to distributors of off-grid lighting (OGL) products to accelerate the development of commercial OGL markets in the country. A checklist approach is being used for each recommended award recipient.


Improving productivity and creating jobs in Senegal

In many Senegalese villages young people move to the capital, Dakar, to seek work, but supplying energy to tourist facilities is helping to address this problem in one village. Two tourist camps use the electricity to power lights, ventilators and modern facilities, and so attract more visitors, which in turn means they employ more local young people. Improving the provision of energy enhances productivity and boosts economic activity.

GVEP supports thirteen Senegalese businesses in various sectors to use improved access to energy in order to develop their activities. The businesses benefit from increased production and profitability, while the surrounding communities benefit from job creation and increased incomes to pay for education and better food. Projects like this can also reduce rural-urban migration.

DEEP - Developing Energy Enterprises Project - Ended in February 2013

Staff and businesses metting at DEEP's final workshop Through the DEEP programme, GVEP developed a sustainable and widespread industry of micro and small energy enterprises. Spanning five years, the Developing Energy Enterprises Project (DEEP) started in March 2008 and ended in February 2013.  This €4 million initiative was supported by the European Union and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGIS). It aimed to deliver energy access to 1.8 million people in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. This target was substantially exceeded as it reached over four million beneficiaries by the end of the programme.

Over 900 micro and small energy enterprises (MSEEs) were supported by DEEP. These businesses were involved in the manufacture and/or supply of clean cookstoves, solar PV products and services, clean fuel briquettes and biogas systems. GVEP provided them with mentoring, training and support services covering: product quality and technical issues, business and sales skills, access to finance and access to business networks. These entrepreneurs work at the bottom of the pyramid (BoP) in rural and periurban areas. The products and services they offer have contributed to provide an improved access to clean energy solutions for low-income customers in these communities. This programme created approximately 3,000 jobs in the region.

Impact of our five year programme in East Africa


  • Supported over 1000 MSEEs: of which 900 are active and delivering products and services to their communities — 38% of these businesses are led by women;
  • Created approximately 3000 jobs;
  • Reached over four million beneficiaries with energy products and services such as improved cookstoves, briquettes, solar phone charging and solar lighting;
  • Changed how the MSEEs do business through enterprise-enterprise linkage, marketing and promotional events, business planning, products improvement and standardisation.

Some lessons learned:

  1. Livelihoods of those living at the Bottom of the Pyramid can be transformed using appropriate enterprise based mechanisms and community empowerment.
  2. Use of locally available resources has the ability to transform a community economy as the entrepreneurs are already working in a familiar environment (i.e. their own community).
  3. Women have proven their ability to engage successfully in energy businesses that are highly technical and therefore viewed as the preserve of men.
  4. Well applied mentorship and coaching revolutionises micro and small energy businesses.
  5. Any BDS training should be followed up with mentorship and coaching, since a few days of training is hardly sufficient to unlock the full potential of a community.
  6. Financial institutions are still at a nascent stage with regards to energy financing, hence the need for more capacity building.
  7. The energy products standardisation process needs to be simplified and the necessary awareness of its value fully understood.
  8. Training and mentoring on keeping accurate records enables entrepreneurs to get a clear understanding and better control of their accounts. This also has a positive effect on financial decision-making and learning how to separate business from personal funds.
  9. Entrepreneurs at the Bottom of the Pyramid have the potential to create thriving local economies and reduce community dependence on grants and relief.
  10. Exposure to markets via organised marketing events has changed the way many entrepreneurs carry out their business.
  11. Enterprise linkages have the potential to create a strong value chain once each category of entrepreneur understands the needs of the other business products and services.
  12. With consistent support, MSEEs have shown the capacity to improve on their product quality, to the extent of obtaining certification approvals from standardisation bodies.
Developing Energy Enterprises in East Africa (expand to read the booklet)

The booklet Developing Energy Enterprises in East Africa compiles case studies presenting some of the best performing DEEP entrepreneurs as well as some of their customers. The booklet showcases the main renewable energy technologies used by DEEP entrepreneurs (improved cookstoves, briquettes and solar). We share the lessons learnt from DEEP as well as business plan and entrepreneurial tips. You’ll also find more information about our other energy access programmes. 

Renewable energy for a sustainable future:  a video documentary on stimulating the growth of energy enterprises in East Africa

As Africa’s population continues to grow, the demand for domestic and institutional energy increases. Access to grid electricity across East Africa is low: about 29% in Kenya, 10% in Tanzania and about 5% in Uganda. Households typically rely on Kerosene lamps or candles for lighting and dry cell batteries for any electrical items and biomass fuel for cooking and heating.
GVEP believes that the market for clean, modern energy products in East Africa has the potential to be expanded hugely. This video documentary shows how, through the Developing Energy Enterprising Programme, businesses can be incubated and developed to meet the needs of people. 

Renewable energy for a sustainable future
from GVEP International on Vimeo