FAQ

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

1. What is “MicroEnergy”?

2. What is MEI’s core business?

3. Who are MEI’s clients? What services does the company provide?

4. What is MEI’s value proposition?

5. What is MEI’s impact?

6. What technologies does MEI work with?

7. Is MEI a technology provider?

8. What is MEI’s exact role in the green microfinance sector?

9. Does MEI provide project funding?

10. Where does MEI operate?

11. Is MEI an NGO or a private company?

12. Isn’t renewable energy too expensive for the people at the Base of the Pyramid?

 

 

1. What is “MicroEnergy”?

“MicroEnergy” is energy at the micro level, i.e. for individual households and microentrepreneurs. The idea behind this concept is that universal, sustainable energy supply will only be possible by taking into account the specific energy needs for people at the Base of the Pyramid. “MicroEnergy” stands for a decentralized, bottom-up approach to energy supply.

 

2. What is MEI’s core business?

We provide technical assistance to microfinance institutions (MFIs) to integrate green energy microloan schemes into their portfolios. Thereby, we work hand in hand with energy product suppliers and investors.

 

3. Who are MEI’s clients? What services does the company provide?

We work with all those interested in universal sustainable energy supply. Typically, this includes:

-         Microfinance institutions - to develop green energy microloan schemes, providing capacity-building workshops and continuous technical assistance;

-         Green energy product suppliers (from local cleantech SMEs to multinational energy companies) - to assess and improve value and supply chains, develop business plans, penetrate new markets, and advance energy supply;

-         International development actors - to manage green energy and microfinance projects and studies;

-         Scientific research institutions - to advance knowledge on green energy supply and microfinance.

More information on our service offer can be found here.

 

4. What is MEI’s value proposition?

Combining clean energy supply and microfinance requires an in-depth technical expertise and practical experience in both sectors. We serve as a bridge between clean energy and microfinance, which mutually benefits the two sectors, as well as their respective customers and investors.

 

5. What is MEI’s impact?

We provide access to clean energy through microfinance to the people at the Base of the Pyramid, reaching numerous positive impacts on a triple bottom-line:

- economic, e.g. long-term savings on energy expenditures, increased agricultural productivity, new income-generating activities;

- social, e.g.  improvements in health and education;

- and environmental, e.g. reduced CO2 emissions, reduced deforestation, climate change adaptation and mitigation.

 

6. What technologies does MEI work with?

We do not favour one technology over another. Instead, we pursue a technology-neutral approach, meaning that for a specific project, the technology selection depends on the energy needs of the end-users. We work with all renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies, including, but not limited to: solar-home-systems, solar dryers, solar water heaters, solar lamps, solar and hybrid mini-grids, improved cookstoves, improved cooking ovens, biodigesters, efficient fridges, and house insulation.

 

7. Is MEI a technology provider?

Not yet. We are a consulting company and as such, we do not buy or sell technologies themselves. However, we support renewable energy technology providers (from the local to the multinational level) to deliver their products to the Base of the Pyramid, by improving local value and supply chains, adapting products to local needs, and developing adapted business plans.

Beyond that, we are currently developing the MicroEnergy Supply System (MESUS), a customized Solar-Home-System (SHS) with a unique DC/DC charge controller (MEUC) enabling usage profiling, centralised data analysis,  improvement of the system’s lifespan and efficiency, and the possibility of connection to the grid or to other SHS.

 

8. What is MEI’s exact role in the green microfinance sector?

As a consulting company, we work at the intersection of microfinance institutions, technology providers and investors. The company provides technical assistance to both microfinance institutions and energy companies, in order to successfully set up green energy microloans and advance green energy supply. This requires assistance to both sectors separately (e.g. capacity-building on renewable energy and BoP finance) and jointly (e.g. to set up the necessary inter-organisational arrangements).

 

9. Does MEI provide project funding?

No. We are a consulting company and as such, we do not directly fund projects. We rely on our extensive network of partners to jointly develop projects and raise the funds necessary to implement them.

 

10. Where does MEI operate?

MEI is based in Berlin, Germany. We have been working in more than 30 countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia since 2002, including (in alphabetical order) Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Peru, The Philippines, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda and Tanzania. As a consulting company, we do not have local branches (yet). Instead, we send our consultants in a flexible manner wherever our services are needed, from capital cities to the most remote villages. Our field missions can last from a couple of days up to several months.

 

11. Is MEI an NGO or a private company?

MEI is a legal liability company under German law (GmbH). We consider ourselves to be a social business in line with the definition of Prof. Mohammad Yunus: while the overall aim of the company is poverty alleviation, we strive to be financially and economically sustainable, thereby re-directing investment dividends and profits into the company’s further development.

 

12. Isn’t renewable energy too expensive for the people at the Base of the Pyramid?

While renewable energy technologies such as a solar home systems, typically demand high upfront investments for people at the Base of the Pyramid in comparison to traditional energy sources (biomass, kerosene, diesel), they become cheaper over time due to their comparatively low operating costs (mainly for maintenance). The perception that renewable energy is expensive is based on upfront costs. Given the right financing mechanism, clean energy becomes more affordable and sustainable in the long run.