2016 Ashden International Award finalists
1001 Fontaines, Cambodia
Harnessing solar power to bring safe water
Eight out of 10 people without improved drinking water sources live in rural areas. By enabling rural populations in Cambodia to provide safe drinking water for themselves at an affordable price, 1001 Fontaines is helping to prevent diseases and supporting small business start-ups. The organisation installs village-scale filtration kiosks, run by entrepreneurs who deliver bottles of drinking water to homes and schools. Their solar-powered purification process currently benefits over 340,000 customers including 90,000 children who are the most vulnerable to waterborne diseases.
Building on the wisdom of the ancients
Meaning “initiation” in Sanskrit, Abhikram has managed to seamlessly blend sustainability and energy efficiency in buildings with beautiful design. Abhikram uses traditional materials and techniques like lime washing in new builds and has also retrofitted and preserved everything from palaces to hotels. For more than 30 years, the architectural practice has drawn on a deep rooted knowledge of traditional construction methods and materials.
Bicycle Empowerment Network Namibia
When two wheels are the best option…
BEN Namibia has helped establish more than 30 bike shops in Namibia. Each is run independently by local entrepreneurs who have been trained in bicycle mechanics and business skills. The shops sell and service refurbished second hand bicycles sourced from partners around the world, and profits benefit local community projects like HIV outreach programmes. With nearly 35,000 bicycles currently in use, this social enterprise provides affordable sustainable mobility, creates jobs and generates revenue for community development.
Bridges to Prosperity, Global
Connecting communities with vital services
In the remote parts of countries like Rwanda, Peru and Nicaragua, walking is the primary form of transportation and many people have to walk much further than they need to get to river crossing points because there aren’t the bridges. Bridges to Prosperity not only builds bridges but also teaches communities how to build and maintain these connections to healthcare, education and employment. Its projects span the globe, bringing people together through construction training. In total, the organisation has completed 203 bridges in 20 countries and 65,000 return trips are made every day.
Frontier Markets, India
The female face of clean energy in India
In India, villages are dispersed and the terrain is rugged with patchy roads. Despite these challenges, Frontier Markets focuses on reaching the poorest and most remote areas. The business offers a unique distribution model to provide high quality solar lamps and other solar systems to hard-to-reach villages, using a network of trained women called Solar Sahelis to be the face of their marketing and after-sales service. To date, Frontier Markets has sold over 127,000 clean energy products in Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh.
Gham Power, Nepal
Powering a country through tailored financing
A quarter of Nepal’s population lives without any access to electricity, mostly in rural areas, whilst the remaining 21 million people are grid-connected but face long daily blackouts. Solar power can be the most reliable option but the initial cost puts it out of reach for many. Local business Gham Power develops solar microgrids to power off-grid homes, and individual solar systems for small businesses, providing tailored financing packages to make them affordable. In the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in Nepal last year, Gham Power is also bringing hope and information to the people who lost their homes, as well as vital electricity to health and aid workers, and providing solar lights and charging stations for mobile phones.
Grassroots Trading Network for Women, India/Nepal/Sri Lanka/Afghanistan
Solar-powered salt farming is transforming women’s lives
Salt production businesses are often owned and run by women and adolescent girls. Producing salt requires large volumes of salt water to be pumped into salt pans by means of diesel powered pumps. The fuel costs can comprise 70% of their profits. The Grassroots Trading Network is introducing solar pumps to lower production costs and increase profits. The salt farmers use the savings from diesel to repay the cost of the solar pumps in installments over four years.
Greenlight Planet, Global
Brightening life for the hard to reach
By developing and manufacturing reliable solar products Greenlight Planet is on a mission to deliver light that everyone can afford. With sales to date of over five million solar products across 40 countries, the organisation is well on its way. Greenlight Planet carefully selects partners who can distribute to the most remote regions. Their nine Sun King products range from the smallest US$8 lamp up to the US$125 solar home system (three lights and two charging sockets). Pay-as-you-go is available for lamps as well as the more expensive systems bringing solar within reach of many more low-income families.
Mobisol, East Africa
Turning up the power of off-grid solar
East Africa is where the revolution of using mobile payments for off-grid solar electrification started. Mobisol is taking this to new levels, selling high power solar systems which can be used not just for homes but for small businesses, enabling entrepreneurial customers to earn additional income. The company is adapting to the fast moving world of mobile technology and providing customers with affordable payment plans, comprehensive customer service and ultimately a happier and healthier life. Mobisol has so far installed over 40,000 solar home systems in rural regions of Tanzania and Rwanda, which are fully owned by the customer after three years of affordable payments.
Nazava Water Filters, Indonesia
Keeping households healthy with clean water
Most people in Indonesia rely on wells or springs for their water supply, and even where tap water is available it is never safe to drink. Some 15,000 Indonesian children under five die annually from waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea. Nazava water filters enable lower income households to purify their well or tap water without the need to boil it by burning wood or using electricity. This reduces disease and sickness, lowers household costs and reduces CO₂ emissions. The company has sold 53,000 water filters and reached 200,000 people since 2009.
Shanghai Landsea Planning & Architectural Design Co.Ltd, China
Greener living in a challenging climate
Shanghai Landsea Planning & Architectural Design Co.Ltd is a founding member of the China Green Building Council and a leading practitioner of green buildings, owning many patents in building technologies. Established in 2001, Landsea Design has been led by its green strategy, installing insulation, efficient air conditioning and ventilation systems as standard in the 2.5 million square metres of buildings that it has worked on. China will account for about half of the new construction globally in the coming decade and the organisation is providing comfortable, affordable homes in a challenging climate.
Catalysing a solar finance ecosystem
What many beyond-the-grid solar companies need is a reliable and continuous source of debt financing that they can easily access. Based in Tanzania, SunFunder is unlocking capital for this sort of finance by providing investors the opportunity to lend to a carefully selected portfolio of solar businesses. It has so far provided over $8 million of finance to solar businesses in eight African countries and India, helping them to offer solar electricity to thousands of people.