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Navigating Investment for Innovation in Off-Grid Solar Power

Wed, 20 December, 2023

The journey to bring solar electrification to the off-grid rural villages of the Philippines started as a noble endeavour; one that contained a promise to empower communities, drive economic development, and contribute to a sustainable future. Consistent to this vision, the IMPHORAA project is now at a stage of being assessed by investors that will provide the support that is required to ensure its long term viability.

As we navigate the landscape of further investment into our initiative, we are learning valuable lessons that every stakeholder in the realm of renewable energy and off grid rural electrification should consider…

  1. Understanding the local context is paramount

Our first lesson was clear; a deep understanding of the local context is essential. Each village we aim to electrify has its unique challenges, from geographical considerations to socio-economic dynamics. Tailoring our approach to each community's specific needs is crucial in gaining the trust and support of local stakeholders.

Investors value community involvement and social acceptance of the proposed solutions. Building strong partnerships with local leaders, community members, and relevant organisations has been a critical part of our journey. Measuring the baseline and demonstrating a genuine commitment to empowering the community and involving them in decision-making processes enhanced the viability and sustainability of our project.

  1. Clearly communicating the unique value proposition

Articulating the value proposition for investors is paramount, especially when it involves the complexity of creating an ecosystem that’s dependent upon a variety of stakeholders, local and international. Investors are drawn to the potential for franchise creation, recognising the opportunity to expand the project's reach through stakeholders who undergo adequate training and are incentivised to play pivotal roles in bringing electricity to off-grid rural communities.

  1. Balancing social impact with financial viability

Investors seek projects that deliver both financial and societal returns. Striking the right balance between a viable ROI and social impact through what is essentially a frugal solution proved challenging. Thanks to our partner’s Nanoe vast experience in Madagascar, we learned to articulate the socio-economic benefits of our multi-dimensional solution while presenting a clear and viable financial model that assured investors of the project's long-term sustainability.

  1. The challenge of calculating ROI

Factors such as varied community development metrics, evolving socio-economic conditions, and physical asset maintenance (in the context of harsh environmental conditions like the ocean that creates corrosion issues), and the long-term nature of the impact make the calculation of ROI quite complex. Effectively conveying these challenges to investors and developing a nuanced approach to ROI calculation has been, and still remains, an integral challenge for the consortium.

  1. Building a robust monitoring and evaluation framework

Investors value transparency and accountability. Establishing a robust monitoring and evaluation framework will not only help in tracking the progress of our electrification projects, but will also provide investors with the assurance that their funds will be used effectively. Thankfully, in our project, we have the support of our local partner Quantum Leaps to thank for undertaking this difficult task, which provisions many trips back and forth to the installation sites.

Our journey to find investment has not finished yet. It keeps teaching us lessons on the importance of adaptability, community engagement and the integration of innovation with commercial viability. While challenges are abundant, so are the opportunities for growth and positive impact.

We will keep you posted on all the latest updates that we’ll have in our journey of investment for frugal innovation in off-grid solar power for the Philippines.


This project is supported by Innovate UKs Energy Catalyst Programme (funding by the Foreign, Commonwealth Development Office through their Transforming Energy Access Programme) and UK aid and was awarded as a “subsidy” under the UK International Obligations for Subsidy Control and delivered under Grant 90935 from Innovate UK