Ashden International programmes

For poor communities in the developing world, local sustainable energy can transform lives: it brings reliable, clean electricity to off-grid villages, smoke-free kitchens, bright light for work and study and vital connections to the outside world through mobile phones and the Internet. The social impact is dramatic – from better incomes, health and communications to improved education and economic opportunities. Clean energy can lift people out of poverty and into the modern world.

Sustainable energy also tackles climate change and deforestation. When people switch from using fossil fuels to renewable technologies like solar PV, biogas and hydro-power, carbon emissions and other pollutants are reduced. When they switch from using inefficient cook stoves to efficient ones that burn less wood, fewer trees are destroyed.

Supporting our international winners

Ashden Award winners in Africa, Asia and Latin America are successful entrepreneurs who have developed inventive and sustainable ways to harness energy and improve their communities. We want them to scale up and achieve even more.

Winning an award is the start of an exciting journey. Working with partners who are committed to sustainable development, we offer our international winners a tailored package of practical advice and support to help them reach their full potential:

  • Business and financial advice
  • On-site mentoring from professional business consultants
  • Technical advice to improve products
  • Know-how exchanges with other practitioners
  • Introductions to investors and finance.

Winners' journeys

The impact of winning an Ashden Award can be dramatic.

TIDE India designs improved cook stoves for small businesses across Southern India. Since winning the International Gold Award in 2008 the founders of TIDE have launched a social enterprise, Sustaintech to scale up the use of their fuel efficient stoves. This achievement was made possible by Ashden’s support programme, which provided business planning support through our partners GVEP and Arc Finance; enabled participation in INSEAD, a leading social entrepreneurship course and introduced investment finance from ERM Low Carbon Enterprise Fund and Rianta Capital.

TIDE is creating a legacy of innovation, both technical and economic. As their stoves are developed for different and larger businesses, so their network of entrepreneurs is expanding across the country.

When it won an Ashden Award in 2010, the NGO Rural Energy Foundation was expanding access to solar energy in off-grid areas of Africa but realised that in order to scale up and reach more low income families they needed to shift to a business model that would allow them to sell products with a credit facility. Since then we’ve helped them transform into a for-profit business, SolarNow, which now operates in Uganda and Senegal and will soon expand to Tanzania. The process was facilitated by business support through our partners Challenges Worldwide, and the opportunity for SolarNow’s CEO to participate in the INSEAD social entrepreneurship training. Plans are now afoot to roll out affordable solar home systems across Africa with a hire purchase facility.

Training prospective Solar Now retailers, Moroto, Uganda

TECNOSOL won an Ashden Award in 2010 for its success in bringing solar power to thousands of people living in remote areas of Nicaragua. Since then, through our partner NTR Foundation, TECNOSOL has received over $100,000 to provide business training to its employees and has had technical assistance from our partner ERM Foundation to strengthen their business operations. Next they will receive in-kind support from Ashden and ERM Foundation to enable them to expand the business to urban areas.

With 17 branches across Nicaragua, TECNOSOL is now spreading its message and products across the continent.