Microfinance to promote access to clean energy in Togo


Entrepreneurs du Monde (EdM) is a French association created in 1998, whose objective is to improve the living conditions of populations in extreme poverty. In order to carry out its mission, the association supports entrepreneurship and helps people buy products that have a major impact on their health, the economy and the environment. Present in 12 countries, it has already launched energy access programs in five of them, including one in Togo.

A country with high levels of energy poverty

Two-thirds of the Togolese population lives under the poverty line. The country has the typical characteristics of a developing country: only 30% of homes have electricity, and the majority of inhabitants use kerosene lamps or battery-powered torches and rely on wood to cook. These consumption habits have numerous consequences. Economic consequences, first of all, since families can devote up to 25% of their budget on energy. Health consequences also, because the smoke produced is responsible for unclean air in homes and cause lung diseases, which women are the main victims of. And finally, there are ecological consequences, with the over-use of wood fuel exacerbating deforestation and the greenhouse effect.

Mivo Energie: promoting access to affordable energy

Faced with this situation, “the EdM team started by carrying out a market study in 2013 to understand women’s constraints,” remembers Elarik Philouze, the association’s coordinator in Togo. The study confirmed the need for cooking equipment and cheap lighting that meet safety standards: improved cookstoves, and LPG* cookstoves, and solar-powered lamps. The association then created Mivo Energie, a program that supports local manufacturers, sets up distribution networks, develops suitable financial solutions, and organizes awareness-raising campaigns aimed at women in particular. Launched in 2014, the network is now made up of 40 dealers, nearly all of whom are women. “Our aim really is to reduce the use of wood charcoal while mobilizing local communities in order to create jobs,” adds Elodie Le Bachelier, Energy development manager at EdM. The Air Liquide Foundation is helping to finance the renovation of Mivo Energie’s shop in Lomé, as well as the acquisition of a motorcycle for the sales manager, and continuing the information campaign.

The impact of micro-entrepreneurship through women

The professional emancipation of these female dealers is promoted by financial support that aims to give them easy payment terms and micro-credit in partnership with specialized institutions. These financial solutions are also offered to people who buy the products distributed by Mivo Energie. The association does not ask for guarantees but it works alongside borrowers, providing them with the training they need to become independent. “The first results are very positive; 12,000 borrowers have benefited from the social micro-finance program,” says Elarik Philouze. “We now want to widen our product range and our area of intervention.”

A long-term project

In 2015, the team also started petitioning the Togolese authorities on the issue of tax exemptions for the lamps and solar kits: “Technologies that enable access to energy remain unaffordable for most Togolese households,” explains the coordinator. “This subject is one of our priorities.” The association’s ultimate mission is to set up a viable economic model in order to progressively withdraw and leave the local managers in charge, as is already the case with an equivalent project conducted in Burkina Faso.

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* Liquefied petroleum gas, which is a mixture of butane and propane

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Testimonials

I met a team from Entrepreneurs du Monde in Togo. They were motivated and determined to reach the objectives set, namely to lift women out of poverty and facilitate access to clean, affordable energy.

Alban Houngbedji
Air Liquide Togo