2030 Finance | May 2, 2018

Pollinate Energy and Empower Generation merge to scale energy access

Jessica Pothering
ImpactAlpha Editor

Jessica Pothering

ImpactAlpha, May 2 – More than one billion people worldwide lack access to electricity. Australia-based Pollinate Energy and U.S.-based Empower Generation focus on the poorest of the energy-poor, distributing and financing clean energy products in rural Nepal and India’s urban slums.

The organizations have sold or distributed 84,000 solar devices, water filters, clean cookstoves and other products, reaching roughly 500,000 people.

Because they are small distributors, they have struggled with fundraising and negotiating business and supplier contracts that put their for-profit businesses on a path to sustainability. “There’s little funding for distribution businesses [like ours] because we’re so small,” Empower Generation’s Anya Cherneff tells ImpactAlpha.

  • Realistic impact… Empower Generation and Pollinate Energy together aim to reach one million people by 2020, particularly women and girls.
  • The gritty details… The two organizations have merged their boards. Empower will help Pollinate recruit and train women. Pollinate will help Empower professionalize its sales and reporting processes.

The merger is the first step toward a larger collaboration with organizations in the clean energy sector. It also offers a model for other hybrid or non-profit energy businesses that are focused on ultra-poor customers.

“The for-profit side of the business will eventually support itself,” Cherneff says. “The non-profit side will still have to fundraise to do new things.”