Acumen Joins Beyond the Grid as Founding Partner

By Acumen on June 09, 2014

Acumen is proud to be a founding partner of Beyond the Grid, an innovative framework under President Obama’s Power Africa initiative to increase energy access for underserved populations across sub-Saharan Africa. Beyond the Grid will leverage partnerships with investors and practitioners committing to invest over $1 billion into off-grid and small scale solutions for this underserved market.

Acumen has committed to invest up to $10 million in 5-10 enterprises serving off-grid markets in multiple Power Africa countries. Acumen started investing in Energy in 2007, and our work in Energy is now impacting tens of millions of lives. We have invested $12.8 million in 11 energy companies that have created over 950 jobs. One example is d.light design, a company that sells high-quality and affordable solar lighting solutions to the poor, impacting over 33 million people’s lives. We have found that investing in energy is one of the most highly leveraged ways to tackle poverty. Indeed, the transformative power of energy is clear:

  • Advances education: Reliable access to light allows students to study at night, increasing their educational opportunities and empowering them to work towards a better future
  • Increases income: Electricity has been proven to increase productivity in low-income communities. Businesses can stay open later, allowing business owners to increase their earnings while local economies become stronger.
  • Improves health: Access to safe light, such as solar, breaks the cycle of dependence on kerosene lamps which produce toxic fumes that lead to a range of respiratory illnesses and can cause burns when knocked over.

Power Africa was launched in June 2013, and has leveraged more than $15 billion from the private sector for new on, mini and off-grid projects in sub-Saharan Africa. One of the initial 2013 commitments was to Acumen investee Husk Power Systems, which sought to complete the installation of 200 decentralized biomass-based mini power plants in Tanzania – providing affordable lighting for 60,000 households.

“Beyond the Grid will help to expand the work the U.S. Government is already doing through Power Africa to bring electricity to citizens of sub-Saharan Africa,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “With close to 600 million people without access to modern-day electricity, it is clear that centralized grid access is not a comprehensive solution for these countries in one of the world’s least urban continents. But through solutions including off-grid and small scale energy projects, we can bring electricity to these rural areas.”

The founding partners of the Beyond the Grid include:

  • Acumen
  • Bamboo Finance
  • BBOXX
  • Capricorn Investments
  • CrossBoundary
  • d.light
  • Embark Energy
  • Energiya Global
  • Fenix International
  • Global Off-Grid Lighting Association
  • Gray Ghost Ventures
  • Invested Development
  • Khosla Impact
  • LGT Venture Philanthropy
  • Liberia Energy Network
  • Low Carbon Enterprise Fund
  • Mosaic
  • Off Grid Electric
  • Persistent Energy Partners
  • Powerhive
  • Schneider Electric
  • Shell Foundation
  • Solar Sister
  • SunFunder
  • Tony Elumelu Foundation
  • United Nations Foundation
  • Virunga Power

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