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Posts for Enclude Blog

Posted on April 15, 2016

Posted by: Anouk Verheijen, Senior Consultant, Sustainable Business Practices

Providing commercially viable and affordable off-grid clean energy products and services to Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) costumers is a big ask.  It requires both efficiency and scale. How can this be achieved?

There is no one size fits all.  Different countries, different districts, different cultures and different infrastructures lead to different market ecosystems.  But this lofty goal is a worthwhile one: getting truly clean energy alternatives to the clients that traditional energy infrastructures are failing to serve is a win for people and the environment.

The Sustainable Energy Services for Africa (SESA) programme, a public-private partnership between Philips Lighting and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has been working hard to find the best ways to reach the most underserved clients.  Over 8 years, SESA has tested a variety of business models to accelerate delivery of off-grid clean energy services to BOP clients in the market ecosystems of 4 African countries: Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Enclude, together with ETC Foundation, implemented this programme from 2007-2015.

Posted on April 13, 2016

Posted by: Stefan Platteau, Global Group Lead, Microfinance

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Client Victoriana Mairena, Tonalá, Chinandega with irrigation equipment funded by FDL

Where clients suffer, lenders do too.  In Nicaragua, the Fondo de Desarrollo (FDL) was learning this all too well, as their rural clients suffered the consequences of climate change: droughts and then floods, brought on by unreliable rains.  As the conditions worsened, FDL was determined to stay true to its mission, which meant that ending rural lending programs was not an option. A green finance product had to be the answer.

In 2013, FDL was one of the first MFIs to win the EcoMicro award, designed for Latin American and Caribbean microfinance institutions (MFIs) to support the development of green finance products, enabling clients to get access to sustainable energy solutions, increase their energy efficiency, or adapt to climate change.  FDL worked with EcoMicro to develop a green finance loan product that would help their clients confront the growing environmental challenges, while contributing to sustainability on their farms and in their local ecologies and economies.

Posted on April 06, 2016

Posted by: Enclude

Tomorrow morning, Enclude’s Managing Director of Capacity Solutions, Roland Pearson, will join the U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua and representatives from Banco de América Central Nicaragua (BAC-Nicaragua) at BAC-Nicaragua’s Managua headquarters to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to express commitment and generate public awareness for a new program working to expand access to credit to women entrepreneurs in Nicaragua. The Variable Payment Obligation (VPO) Program, which officially launched in September 2015 and is funded by USAID and the Argidius Foundation, mobilizes capital from BAC-Nicaragua and third-party impact investors to lend through BAC-Nicaragua using an innovative underwriting methodology and repayment schedule, complemented with business acceleration services.

Small and growing businesses (SGBs) in developing markets often find it difficult to borrow from local banks due to heavy reliance on collateral, complex paperwork requirements, and general unease with lending to the segment due to lack of financial or other information about the borrowers. In Nicaragua, women face additional constraints due to difficulties in posting collateral (land is often registered in a male partner’s name) and complying with paperwork requirements. At the same time, foreign investors seeking to lend to SGBs face challenges such as lack of clarity regarding investor expectations, poor alignment of capital with demand on the ground (particularly debt finance), no track record of existing products, lack of exit opportunities, insufficient instruments and products in which large investors can participate, and high transaction costs associated with structuring and executing investments. Even when these obstacles are surmounted, loan repayments may not match the cash flow generated by the company, particularly in the case of earlier stage SGBs with uneven cash flows, creating further hardship.

Posted on February 01, 2016

Posted by: Enclude

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Urwego is a triple bottom line microfinance provider. Through the AfDB Training for Environmental and Social Performance Management program, Urwego is receiving customized additional coaching from Enclude’s Outcomes Management & Strategy team on how to integrate environmental performance into this triple bottom line approach to business. One project provides group loans that bring clean cookstoves to this family and their banana farm.

 

Posted on December 02, 2015

Posted by: Anouk Verheijen, Senior Consultant, Sustainable Business Practices

Social and Environmental Performance Management is a new field for Angolan banks. Angola’s economy is overwhelmingly driven by the oil sector and the country is suffering from high unemployment rates (26%), significant poverty, and high income inequality. In this context social and environmental risks relating to corporate lending are high, while plenty of opportunities exist for designing specific financial offerings to promote green growth and financial inclusion.

Banco de Poupança e Crédito (BPC), an Angolan government-owned commercial bank, is the first Angolan bank to implement a Social and Environmental Management System (SEMS) to enhance its social and environmental performance. Enclude’s team of consultants has worked together with the bank, as well at with the Angolan Ministry of Environmental Affairs and the African Development Bank (AfDB), to design this system. The system provides BPC with the necessary tools to assess social and environmental (including climate change) risks of prospective clients. In addition, it enables the bank to measure and improve on the bank’s own social and environmental footprint and to develop new loan offerings promoting green growth and social inclusion.

AfDB’s Principle Social Development Specialist Rachel Aron says of the recent completion of the new system: ‘We congratulate BPC on becoming the first and only Angolan bank with a SEMS!’

More insights about and a summary of the SEMS can be found on the BPC website.

Posted on October 22, 2015

Pushing the Boundaries of the Wharton Study on Impact Investing

Posted by: Laurie Spengler, President & CEO

Do I make money or do I support a good cause? For too long investment decisions have been reduced to a clear cut choice between two assumed extremes: greatest possible financial return versus greatest possible charitable impact.

The Wharton study, Does Social Impact Demand Financial Sacrifice?, highlights the need to think beyond the landscape of extremes. But does it go far enough in looking at investment choices? I believe that there is another decision tree that allows an investor to deploy capital in a manner consistent with her objectives; a decision path that takes advantage of the expanding universe of investment opportunities falling between the extremes of making the most money she can or giving her money away to a good cause.

At Enclude, a specialist advisory intermediary in responsible, sustainable and impact investing, we describe total return as the sum of the financial, social and environmental benefit arising from an investment. In this blog, I would like to offer a continuum of thinking sparked by the Wharton study that calls for a fresh analytical framework to help investors answer the question “what can I expect to achieve through this investment beyond making money?”

Investigating new investment landscapes

As investors, we too often use different lenses to decide, investing without regard to considerations for how the return is generated, and donating for good causes without regard for optimizing financial results. But we no longer live in a bifurcated world that forces such extreme choices.

For example: in my financial institutions portfolio, do I invest in a bank that avoids making loans to entrepreneurs in its local community and make a donation to a community foundation or do I make an investment in a community bank serving local entrepreneurs responsibly and profitably? Do I hold a portfolio of energy assets that remain linked to fossil fuels and make a generous donation to a wildlife preservation charity or do I invest in a clean energy fund where all the assets are invested into companies that are lowering our carbon footprint?

Posted on October 19, 2015

Posted by: Enclude’s Channels & Linkages Team

Trends in the field of digital financial services (DFS) range from changes in the stakeholders driving change to reactions to fraud allegations. The members of Enclude’s Channels and Linkages cut through the noise of the breakneck pace of change to share trends we think will be the most significant in the coming years.

 National Strategies for Financial Inclusion

Although financial inclusion has been a long-term goal for many, we are seeing more concrete and articulated national plans to reach previously un(der)served markets. In these new strategies, DFS is a key channel with which Central Banks plan to reach new populations. Moving forward, we expect to see changes in or developments of national payment system strategies that will have an impact on the opening of markets to new financial service providers as well as new rules that will govern the supervision and oversight of payment systems. To highlight this increase, 23 countries have made National Financial Inclusion Strategy commitments under the Maya Declaration, as of 2014. At least 18 more countries are at various stages of the process.

Governments Driving Digital Payments

More recently, governments are prioritizing the digitization of government-to-person and person-to-government (G2P and P2G) payment streams, including pensions, salaries, and other social welfare disbursements. It is part of a wider digitization process where governments are also automating their systems, such as those for internal processes and provision of public services (notably, payments and national identification systems). Shifting payments, such as wages or government transfers, from cash into accounts can increase the number of adults with a bank account according to multiple studies. These disbursements provide an important first entry point into formal financial services for recipients, which can lead to increases in savings and the substitution of formal for informal saving flows. For example, Colombia has undergone a transition to digital with Familias en Accion, which pays bi-monthly amounts to 2.4 million households, or 11% of the population. Within two years, the program went from 76% of its beneficiaries being paid in cash to only 9% in 2011—by which time, 91% had a card-linked bank account.

Increased Risk and Risk Management Responses

Posted on October 16, 2015

Sustainable Energy Services Africa (SESA) Programme – Closing Event

Posted by: Anouk Verheijen and Wieteke Gondrie, Senior Consultants, Sustainable Business Practices 

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The small scale solar sector in Sub-Saharan Africa is a promising market in terms of the unmet need for clean, reliable and affordable power and light. What are the trends in the sector for the coming 5 to 10 years? What can solar companies learn from market players serving Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) markets in other sectors? What innovative business models and approaches can be used under which market conditions to further grow the sector? These were some of the questions raised, discussed, and moved forward during the Sustainable Energy Services Africa (SESA) programme closing event, which took place from 7-8 October in Nairobi, Kenya.

The SESA programme is a public-private partnership between the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Philips and is implemented by Enclude, together with ETC Foundation. The programme focuses on accelerating the market for small scale, off-grid energy products (predominantly but not exclusively solar lighting) in 4 Sub-Saharan countries, namely Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Ghana. This project, which started in 2007 and is coming to an end this year, has tested various business models by providing grant financing to projects set up by businesses, NGO’s and business associations.

During the SESA closing event, attended by project implementers from all 4 countries, participants were challenged to come up with new ideas to further grow the small scale solar sector in their respective countries. These ideas were formulated based on sector trends shared by industry experts; inspiration sessions from BOP sector players operating outside the solar sector (cookstoves, mobile technology and health care); and lessons learned from business models and approaches tested under the SESA programme.  New ideas pitched by the participants included the establishment of an African based solar energy incubator and accelerator, a franchise / pop-up shop model to distribute solar products to last-mile customers, and development of a green battery­­­­­­­­­.

Posted on October 02, 2015

Posted by: Enclude
MoIT Malawi Business Linkages 201503

This photo was taken by Dieter Kohn in the north of Malawi, in the mountains close to Rumphi.  Enclude staff visited the farmers pictured here and their neighbours, who want to diversify their produce, leaving the traditional tobacco farming behind for new crops.

Enclude is working together with Malawi’s Ministry of Industry and Trade to develop a comprehensive enterprise support intervention to facilitate linkages and create effective ways of upgrading MSMEs; facilitate transfers of technology, knowledge, and skills; and improve business and management practices and access to markets.

Posted on September 30, 2015

Posted by: Kelly Robbins, Special Projects Lead

Discussion with Geert Jan Schuite (GJS), Global Group Lead, Outcomes Management & Strategy and Kelly Robbins (KR), Special Projects Lead

(KR) To start off, tell me how you think of Environmental & Social Management?  You do a lot of trainings on E&S Management Systems with bank and MFI professionals.  How do you explain what E&S means in your trainings?

(GJS) In working with commercial entities in emerging economies, Enclude’s goal is to help them explore and understand their triple bottom line focus.  Having an Environmental & Social Management System in place is about looking beyond profits, to also take into account social inclusion and environmental sustainability as elements that strengthen the quality of organisations, strengthen the position of organisations, and ultimately strengthen the business of organisations.

(KR) I know Enclude’s Outcomes Management & Strategy team works with many clients and partners to incorporate new E&S Management Systems into their core businesses.  What kinds of systems do you find work best?

(GJS) The key of our work with commercial banks, MFIs, funds, and even individual producers is not so much about convincing these partners to use certain systems or pushing them in a certain direction, but rather to assist them in exploring and finding the business meaning of E&S for themselves, so it becomes intrinsic.  That is our ultimate goal.  We never say, “this is how we do it in Europe, now also do the same thing in Malawi.”  Our basic principle is to work together with our partners to look at social and environmental issues from the local context.  We can develop E&S Management Systems together, because together we see what makes sense and what doesn’t for that particular business.  That is the key proposition we are after.

(KR) When working so closely with your partners to develop these systems, do you find that managing environmental and social outcomes is already being done – for example in Africa where you have recently held several E&S trainings?