Energy, finance and community business – where is the money?

Date: Monday, 30 November 2020
Where: Online
A crowd gathers outside to see a presentation

The Energy Change Lab, a programme of IIED and Hivos, demonstrates various productive use of energy appliances to community members in Matembwe Village, Njombe, Tanzania, in November 2019 (Photo: copyright Sisty Basil)

This IIED Debates event, on 30 November, explored what mechanisms can enable community businesses and farmers to access the financing they need to grow their businesses by using energy productively.

Electricity drives economic development. But many small community-level businesses and smallholder farmers in rural parts of sub-Saharan Africa need more access to affordable energy financing to thrive. 

This IIED Debates event asked how we can get energy finance to small community businesses in sub-Saharan Africa.

More ways are emerging to help businesses across sub-Saharan Africa get the energy finance they need to grow, but small businesses in rural communities are still missing out. The uptake of ‘productive use of energy’ (PUE) – energy that can help these community-level businesses increase their income and productivity – is not yet happening at any scale.

Current finance paths such as table banking and group lending can enable households with minimum resources to begin investing. Savings and Credit Co-Operative Societies (SACCOs) offer avenues for larger pots of money, but most women face additional barriers in accessing larger amounts of affordable financing.


Juliette Tunstall (, IIED's internal engagement and external events officer