Shell Foundation (SF) is an independent charity that applies a business approach to global development challenges, such as creating jobs, improving access to energy and urban mobility. Since 2000, SF has worked with long-term partners to create new solutions that can help make social and environmental improvements on a global scale. SF provides business support, grant funding and market links to help social enterprises prove their models, achieve financial independence and expand into new markets.
Once a social enterprise model has proved viable and able to scale, SF creates intermediary businesses and industry associations to support market growth. Over the past 15 years, SF partners have created 35,000 jobs, avoided 6.2 million tonnes of CO2 emissions and secured around $5 billion of investment. In total, SF’s work has benefited 22.6 million people. In 2014, SF developed partnerships with the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to enhance energy access in emerging markets and support job creation in the Middle East.
Increasing energy access
More than 2 billion people lack access to reliable, affordable and modern energy, according to the United Nations Development Programme. This affects their health, education and earning potential. One of SF’s core programmes focuses on increasing access to affordable and reliable energy. In 2014, SF published Accelerating Access to Energy, that outlines its work in this area since 2000.
SF’s work includes a long-term partnership with d.light, a company that designs, manufactures and distributes affordable solar lighting and power products for low-income households and small businesses.
d.light is now established in over 60 countries after receiving business and financial support over six years from SF. In 2014, it doubled its sales to more than 6 million solar light products and attracted $11 million of investment from social investors to fund its expansion.
Affordable solar products
In 2010, SF partnered with M-KOPA Solar, a social enterprise based in Kenya that combines solar and mobile technology to provide low-cost energy to villages in East Africa. The company has merged solar and mobile payment technology to provide credit to people on a low income. This means they can access solar energy products which they pay for in daily instalments using their mobile phone. This includes a solar-powered system for lighting homes and for charging phones and radios.
In 2014, M-KOPA Solar received $20 million of funding to help its growth. This came from social and commercial investors including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Commercial Bank of Africa. By the end of 2014, M-KOPA had sold more than 100,000 solar-home systems and is now expanding across Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.