Despite increasing efforts to reach Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG 7) – ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030 – 789 million people still lack access to energy, and 2.8 billion rely on traditional, polluting and hazardous cooking fuels.

If we are to reach SDG 7, we need new and innovative approaches to address persistent gender challenges in scaling up access to modern energy and modern cooking services. This is especially relevant for  achieving SDG 5 on gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. To spur gender responsive energy access actions,  ENERGIA has co-established the Gender and Energy Innovation Facility, to foster innovative approaches and maximize experimentation and learning. Our partners in this Facility are Hivos, Development (EnDev) and Modern Energy Cooking Services (MECS).

The concept of innovation

The Facility defines innovation as experimentation to create something new, something that deviates from the norm and requires working with the unknown. It aims to stimulate a wide range of innovations on:

  • Product or service (making something new)
  • Process (changing the way a product or service is created or delivered)
  • Positioning (trying out something that already exists, but in a new context)
  • Paradigm (a complete shift in thinking)

Phases of innovation

The Facility adopts the six-stage model of scaling innovation developed by the International Development Innovation Alliance (IDIA): Ideation, Research and Development, Proof of Concept, Transition to Scale, Scaling and Sustainable Scale.

The Facility supports innovations throughout the first three stages: Ideation, Research and Development and Proof of Concept. Support consists of multidisciplinary brainstorm events (bootcamps) resulting in pilot proposals. Selected pilots receive funding and tailor-made support for implementation. If a pilot shows the potential to scale after the testing phase (Proof of Concept), the Facility will support the implementers in creating a path to transition to scale (the fourth stage).

Thematic and geographical areas

The Facility focuses on three thematic areas to spur innovation:

  1. Gender and Energy Entrepreneurship and Employment
  2. Gender and energy in the care economy
  3. Gender in energy policy and practice

Tapping into their thorough experience and long trajectory of building relationships and working with partners on the ground, the Facility partners support innovations in Kenya, Tanzania and Nepal. Through a call for Expressions of Interest initiatives are selected and invited to participate in a bootcamp to further develop their idea. The Facility initially runs for two years, from 2020 – 2021.