Last month Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) hosted a provocative discussion on Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7) at the UN High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development. The event, co-sponsored by the governments of Ethiopia, Senegal and the United Kingdom, was organized to align with the HLPF’s formal review this year of progress on SDG7.

The event “SDG7: Leaving No One Behind” included diverse speakers who shared successes and challenges in delivering affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy to vulnerable populations living in Asia, Africa and other developing regions. All agreed that sustainable energy is essential to lifting people’s lives and advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The discussion also centered on successful entrepreneurs who are bringing sustainable energy to some of the world’s most vulnerable populations.

Ajaita Shah, founder and CEO of Artha’s portfolio company Frontier Markets was invited, as a panelist, to talk about how Frontier Markets has been able to put women at the center of her business model and changing the paradigm for Energy Finance and Technology for Women. Some major excerpts from her talk:
1. In India, 270 MN people do not have access to 24/7 power, and women are at the center of that challenge. Solar Sahelis have helped over 400,000 households access electricity and earned over $2 MN of income reinvesting that into their families and communities impacting 2.1 MN people. It’s the deepest impact we can strive to achieve.
2. There’s an evolution that requires further intervention. Households are asking for more than lighting, they want power and appliances, they want quick service, they want access to finance to make it happen, and in order scale, we need to invest further in our women.
3. Frontier Markets’ entrepreneurs are now leaders managing new Sahelis, collecting data through mobile phones which includes needs assessments, village information, and monitoring activities on the ground; Frontier Markets provided basic working capital to these women who increased their outreach and conversion by 33%.
4. Through partnerships with government, non-profits, corporate, investors, and development agencies, Women Prosper (an initiative in partnership with Barefoot College) will build a network of 10,000 women impacting 30 MN people by 2022.
5. We are calling on partners to bring consumer credit for the unbanked, work with us on smart subsidies, use fin-tech, and state of the art data collection for a new model that will deliver to 70% of the rural market in India.

You can also watch the video here: Changing the Paradigm for Energy Finance and Technology for Women