Press release: Solar-powered technology to level the playing field for women and girls in world’s poorest countries

The Efficiency for Access Research and Development Fund has awarded 20 organisations a total of £2.9 million in funding for innovative, solar-powered appliance technology projects that will help to level the playing field whilst addressing the climate emergency.

Women and girls and other disadvantaged groups in developing countries will have better access to clean energy, thanks to new funding from UK aid and the IKEA Foundation.

Today, the Efficiency for Access Research and Development Fund has awarded 20 organisations, including several from the UK, a total of £2.9 million of funding for innovative, solar-powered appliance technology projects that will help to level the playing field whilst addressing the climate emergency. The Modern Energy Cooking Services programme is funding six clean cooking projects, as part of this call for proposals.

The winning projects include Neopenda’s project, ‘A wireless vital signs monitor for new-born babies’, which will pilot an affordable and wireless vital signs technology in low-resource health facilities in East Africa. The company’s neoGuard technology allows clinical staff to monitor up to 20 patients at a time. In this project, neoGuard will be introduced to six to eight health facilities in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

Jirogasy’s project ‘Jirodesk V2: Solar-powered computers to enable digitalisation in the off-grid market’ seeks to make e-learning more accessible in Madagascar. The project will develop an energy efficient, all in one, solar powered PC, which can be assembled locally. Once the pilot project is complete, the company aims to provide computer access to over 10,000 students in Madagascar every year.

Simusolar’s project ‘Developing an inclusive, gender-customised Pay As You Go (PAYGO) model for productive uses of energy’ will help female smallholder farmers in off-grid, off-network areas to use solar water pumps and other appliances. Simusolar and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) will develop an innovative data syncing method called 'PAYG Bridge' that broadens the coverage of Simusolar's PAYG platform.

International Environment Minister Zac Goldsmith said:

“As we recover from the coronavirus pandemic, we have a unique opportunity to build back better and create a greener and more inclusive global economy. That’s why we’re funding innovative solutions for clean energy to protect our environment, while helping to level the playing field for women, disabled people and other disadvantaged groups in some of the world’s poorest countries.

“UK aid has already given 26 million people improved access to clean energy and we will continue to drive global change, including as hosts of COP26 next year.”

In the past year, the Efficiency for Access Research and Development Fund has supported 21 organisations with over £2.5 million and facilitated a further £750,000 to six electric cooking projects with funding from UK aid. The Research and Development Fund aims to accelerate the availability, affordability, efficiency and performance of a range of appliances that are particularly suited to developing country contexts and promote social inclusion.

Jeffrey Prins, Head of Portfolio – Renewable Energy, IKEA Foundation, said:

“The IKEA Foundation is proud to support these innovative projects through the Efficiency for Access Research and Development Fund’s third funding call. We want to inspire and influence the renewable energy sector to embrace productive use of renewable energy in all aspects of human development work, which will make our societies more inclusive and greener. These awardees will do just that.”

Mike Thornton, Chief Executive, Energy Saving Trust, said:

“The Research and Development Fund is a vital part of the Efficiency for Access Coalition and we are very pleased to be delivering it in collaboration with our partners, CLASP. With an emphasis on inclusivity and enhancing the compatibility of devices, the awardees will play an important role in driving growth and clean energy innovation in the off-grid appliances market.”


About the Efficiency for Access Research and Development Fund 

  • The Efficiency for Access Research and Development Fund’s Enabling Technologies funding call provided funding for targeted innovations in inclusivity and interoperability. 
  • Awardees received funding to support the implementation of their projects over a two-year period, with individual awards ranging from £50,000 to £270,000. 
  • Many off-grid companies do not create products which have systems and components that can work together in the same environment.  
  • This is an important feature of mature markets for a range of technologies around the world.  
  • Around the world 840 million people live without access to electricity or appliances that help them earn an income or provide access to communications or clean cooking.  
  • Vulnerable and marginalised groups such as women and girls, people with disabilities, children and stateless people are particularly affected. 


For further information and request for any images, please contact:  
Sarah Hambly, Energy Saving Trust  


Efficiency for Access   

Efficiency for Access is a global coalition working to promote high performing appliances that enable access to clean energy for the world’s poorest people. It is a catalyst for change, accelerating the growth of off-grid appliance markets to boost incomes, reduce carbon emissions, improve quality of life and support sustainable development. Efficiency for Access consists of 15 Donor Roundtable Members, 10 Programme Partners, and more than 30 Investor Network members. Current Efficiency for Access Coalition members have programmes and initiatives spanning 44 countries and 22 key technologies.   

The Efficiency for Access Coalition is coordinated jointly by CLASP, an international appliance energy efficiency and market development specialist not-for-profit organisation, and UK’s Energy Saving Trust, which specialises in energy efficiency product verification, data and insight, advice and research.


UK Aid   

UK aid from the UK government, through the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) is the UK Government department that pursues UK national interests and projects the UK as a force for good in the world. FCDO promotes the interests of British citizens, safeguards the UK’s security, defends UK values, reduces poverty and tackles global challenges, including climate change, with international partners.  


About IKEA Foundation 

The IKEA Foundation is funded by INGKA Foundation, owner of the Ingka Group of companies. The IKEA Foundation is independent from the retail business with a sole focus on creating brighter lives on a liveable planet through philanthropy and grantmaking. Learn more at