Helping individuals invest in renewable energy entrepreneurs

Workers standing at distribution warehouse

Credit: alvarez/GettyImages

840 million people in the world still have no access to electricity. The United Nations estimates it will cost $45 billion a year to ensure everyone has access to clean and affordable energy by 2030.

Entrepreneurs in emerging economies find it hard to attract the finance they need to develop small-scale local energy projects that can make a massive difference to people’s lives. Meanwhile, smaller investors and individuals who may not have invested before but are considering it, are increasingly looking to find ways to combine earning money from their investments with making a positive impact on the world.

Charm Impact was set up in 2018 by energy and financial services technology consultant Gavriel Landau and social finance professional Bethany Larsen to connect everyday people with early-stage entrepreneurs in Africa and Asia to support loans that generate a financial, social and environmental return.

The company successfully applied to Innovate UK for funds from Energy Catalyst 6 for a feasibility study to ensure commercial viability of the business model. Charm Impact has since raised loans to support five projects.

In India, funds have been used to help set up 55 solar home systems and 20 solar-powered sewing machines for rural communities. The other four are in West Africa:

  • a solar refrigeration manufacturer and distributor
  • a solar micro-grid to provide electricity to 155 homes and 25 businesses
  • solar systems to replace diesel generators for market stall owners
  • small-scale commercial and industrial solar for two medical pharmacies.

Charm Impact also receives specialised technical assistance from the Crowd Power scheme, which is part of the wider Transforming Energy Access programme. Crowd Power provides funding to Charm Impact to support the development of a pipeline of energy access entrepreneurs and will also provide £20,000 co-funding during Charm Impact’s upcoming equity crowdfunding campaign.

By 2025 it aims to have helped more than 280 entrepreneurs with total loans worth £65 million, saved 600,000 tonnes of CO2 and brought electricity to 750,000 people in Africa and Asia.

Last updated: 11 March 2021

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