zola oge tanzania kumbuli

Najada Kumbuli looks at 'Kazi na Zola', the solar energy kits that are being distributed in Tanzania through the support of Calvert Foundation borrower Off Grid Electric

Conversations With Our WIN-WIN Borrowers

International Women’s Day in March of this year marked the fifth year of our Women Investing in Women initiative (WIN-WIN). It was a celebration that was particularly important for me, as I have been working on this initiative since the beginning. To map the progress of our work so far, I went on a trip to visit some of our borrowers to see first hand how their work is impacting women.

We made our first stop in France, to visit the head offices of our borrower Pamiga. Since its creation in 2005, Pamiga has been supporting African microfinance institutions to further economic development and sustainable growth, including the empowerment of women. We met with Renee Chao Beroff, CEO and Snezana Jovic, who is responsible for tracking social performance at Pamiga, who gave us an update on their work. Recently Pamiga has implemented across a number of their MFIs a Progress Out of Poverty Index, which measures clients' improved livelihood over time. Already Pamiga has served thousands of people with microcredit, the majority of whom are women. I look forward to seeing how the Index can help Pamiga better indidcate the impact of the clients they are supporting.

Afterwards we travelled to Tanzania, where we visited the offices of SunFunder, another borrower of ours. SunFunder is a solar finance business that make loans to solar energy companies. These companies are not just providing clean energy access, but also first-time access to energy for many off-grid communities. With over 20 companies financed, I spoke with Audrey Desiderato, COO about the challenges and opportunities to collect meaningful impact data. We emphasized the importance of gender disaggregated client data to better understand consumer preferences and purchase behavior when it comes to energy access products such as solar home systems and lanterns. In the months to come we will work with SunFunder to better articulate the business case to their companies on incorporating a gender inclusive approach throughout their operations to benefit both the companies financial and impact performance.

Also in Tanzania we visited Off Grid Electric, another borrower of ours. Off Grid Electric distributes solar energy systems, empowering local women as sellers of their product and providing clean energy access to off grid communities. Today they are lighting the homes of over 100,000 new people a month. We met with Nena Sanderson, the MD of Tanzania for Off Grid Electric, and discussed the growth of their clientele. She touched on the importance of the credit underwriting of their clients, not only to ensure the viability of repayments of the solar home system, but also to tailor the clients’ available cash flow to the repayment cycle of the system they wish to buy. Nena also exclaimed to us the growth in opportunities for families that these solar energy systems are providing, in education, employment, and financial inclusion.

As I flew back home, I felt energized about the incredibly opportunity in front of us. We have only just started the journey of channelling more capital to renewable energy solutions that also help to empower women. We need to further this capital in both amount and reach, so that we can create systemic and behavioral change across the investing community and amplify the impact we want to see in the world.