On October 16th and 17th, the United Nations Foundation, U.S. State Department, World Bank Group, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) hosted a high-profile workshop in Washington D.C. focused on “Commercially Viable Mini-Grids”.  As part of our accreditation with the United Nations, IDEAS For Us was requested to send a delegate to this event and begin aligning our new program, IDEAS For Energy Access, with the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All Initiative (SE4ALL). Additional attendees included Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s), large enterprises, government agencies, academic institutions, financial institutions and international NGO’s.


The UN-Led Sustainable Energy for All Initiative seeks to achieve universal energy access by 2030 as one of its three goals, the others being doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency and doubling the share of renewables in the global energy mix.

A range of options exist and are ready to scale for off-grid rural electrification – it’s the business models and financing mechanisms that seem to be the challenge. Led by the UN Foundation, (UNF), the Energy Access Practioners Network consists of 1,800 members based in 85 countries and operating in 170 countries, all working to achieving universal energy access by 2030. IDEAS For Us and SunFarmer (a new partner of IDEAS) are active members of the Network.

The Networks’ goals and accomplishments include:

  • Promote new technologies and innovative financial & business models
  • Provide a platform to convene and connect a range of stakeholders around new partnerships
  • Facilitate the development and adoption of quality standards.

ENergy access facts


As IDEAS For Energy Access continues to mobilize our chapters around addressing this urgent crisis, thus continuing to build our network of partners is critical. We were able to strategize one-on-one with members from the United Nations Foundation, U.S. Department of State, USAID, SME Funds, SunFarmer, Earth Spark International, and The Rockefeller Foundation.

During one  discussion in particular, with Jem Porcaro, Senior Director at UNF, I lent insight into the community engagement, community education, site surveys, photographing, geotagging, and data collection that we have been conducted in Mubende, Kasese, and Kamuli, Uganda. Jem requested that IDEAS For Energy Access partners on an opportunity he’s leading up at UNF which will align our efforts, particularly for health facilities.

Moving forward, IDEAS For Energy Access will be leveraging our UN Accreditation to align with the UN’s Energy and Women’s Health: High Impact Opportunity (HIO). HIO’s are categories of action that have been identified as having significant potential to advance the three objectives of SE4ALL. HIO’s provide a platform for stakeholders from the private sector, public sector, and civil society to work together on specific actions that advance sustainable energy within the framework of the larger global initiative.

solar sisters

Energy and Women’s Health, HIO:

In brief: The goal of this particular high impact opportunity is to increase access to, and the effective and sustained use of, energy-dependent health services, with a particular emphasis on women in low- and middle-income countries.

Impact: In rural and peri-urban medical clinics, providing basic access to adequate and continuous lighting combined with basic medical equipment, such as a fetal heart rate monitor, can be a lifesaving measure for many women.

Strategy: This High-Impact Opportunity will be carried out across three phases:

  1. Mapping, Planning and Mobilization Phase (2013-2014)
  1. Piloting Phase (2015-2018)
  1. Scale-Up Phase (2019-2030); targeting effective access to energy at all health facilities by 2030.

As of now, IDEAS For Energy Access is in Phase 1: Mapping, Planning and Mobilizing in Uganda. Stay tuned for more details.  – JV