What are the Ashden Awards?

A UK based charity that rewards entrepreneurs, businesses and programmes for their innovative work on sustainable energy solutions.

What do they offer?

The aim is to reward innovative initiatives, and above all, to help them gain more visibility and international recognition.

Indeed, most of the time, engineers, and local entrepreneurs are not able to get that amount of visibility because they don’t have a big network and don’t know a lot of people who can help them financially.

Ashden is able to make these connections between stakeholders in the Energy sector.

What was of interest?

We were very interested in this year’s discussion on “Enterprises solutions to the energy access change”. During the session, open discussions were held with the 5 international winners to better understand their business models and approaches:

·  SteamaCo in Kenya, “SteamaCo is unlocking one of the key barriers to making micro-grids investable”

·  BURN Manufacturing in Kenya, “helps improve the lives of women and girls in East Africa with its efficient charcoal-burning Jikokoa™ stove and employment opportunities.”

·  EcoCasa in México, “unlocking financing to build low-carbon social housing”

·  Enertiva, “Solar water heaters helping dairy farmers keep their milking equipment squeaky clean in Costa Rica”

·  Sarhad Rural Support Programme (SRSP), building micro-hydro schemes to bring electricity to the remote Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region of Northern Pakistan

What is interesting in these Awards is the wide range of energy projects that are highlighted and that they take into account the impacts that those projects on the communities where they are implemented.

Also, it was a great opportunity to ask these award recipients open questions about their projects. Of course, we were especially interested in the ICS initiative at BURN Manufacturing and our Research & Advocacy officer was able to get some information on their activities.

“At the moment, they are experiencing success in Kenya. Although though their stove is more expensive than others in the market, they sell 8-10 times more than their competitors. This is perhaps attributed to their special payment plan which allows consumers to pay for the stove over a 12 month period.”

They mentioned that 52 % of deforestation in Kenya is due to biomass cooking and as a result they plan to come out with a wood stove (pellet based) to reduce the use of biomass for cooking.

In terms of their business model, they mentioned having secured a very large amount of public and private funds which helped them invest in an advanced cookstove technology that increases energy efficiency by 40 % and reduces indoor air emissions by 60%. They also have made it a goal to include and empower women in their stove production operations in Kenya which won them recognition from Ashden.”

Ashden gives visibility to innovative energy projects around the world and GERES has also been fortunate to receive recognition over the years, including:

·  GERES, Cambodia Efficient charcoal stoves in Cambodia, 2006.

·  GERES, India Greenhouses bring better nutrition to the Himalayas, 2009.

·  Sustainable Green Fuel Enterprise (SGFE), Cambodia, a project supported by GERES, 2014.

To attend Ashden is a way to discover new initiatives, to meet stakeholders in the sector and share experiences, to be aware of their expectations and their visions, and to follow new trends.

Photo credit : ©Ashden Awards 2014