Created in 1994, E+Co is a non-for-profit provider of both services and capital to clean energy enterprises in developing countries. As of December 2008, it had eight offices -- 3 in Latin America, 2 in Africa and 2 in Asia in addition to the head office in the United States -- and had invested in over 250 enterprises. http://www.eandco.net
Originally (1990-1994) incubated in the Rockefeller Foundation, E+Co has since created:
  • a formal energy-through-enterprise "investment process"
  • a triple bottom line reporting system (financial, social and environmental)
  • a global, web-based management system
  • a series of financial structures to enable multilateral development organizations, development finance institutions, bilateral programs and individuals to provide E+Co with the capital it needs to make investments as well as operating support

The Business Model
  1. E+Co's role in the value chain
  2. The logic behind the model
  3. Picturing the model
The Triple Bottom Line
  1. Social
  2. Environmental
  3. Financial
Lessons Learned
Additional Information
Supporting Documents


Began: 1994, in Bloomfield NJ, USA.

What: A specialized financial intermediary that gathers resources from investors, donor organizations, multilateral development agencies and others and channels those resources to clean energy entrepreneurs in the developing world, providing the entrepreneurs with both the start-up/growth capital they need as well as the services that will help ensure the business' success.

E+Co_Box.JPGDeals range in size from everything that is larger than what a microfinance institution might consider to everything smaller than what is traditionally covered by project finance or venture capital. Thus E+Co is operating in the space sometimes described as the "missing middle" of the finance world. From the discipline of project finance, E+Co adheres to the practice of conducting rigorous financial analysis of its deals and matching repayment terms closely with cash flow projection. Borrowing from the world of microfinance, E+Co understands the principle that "the poor repay" and leverages various forms of social collateral.

Returns on those deals made in the "missing middle" also fall in the area between two well-defined social practices: that of charity and that of social investment. Pure charity, almost by definition, results in zero financial returns (although the overall social or environmental benefit may be significant). Purely commercial investment, on the other hand, insists on market returns, with social and environmental considerations often getting swept to the side. Social entrepreneurship, such as the kind that E+Co is engaged in, recognize that there are important catalytic effects of charity that markets may never produce if left to their own devices. On the other hand, E+Co also recognizes the importance of generating some financial returns thus providing meaningful leverage to donated resources and increasing the financial sustainability of the overall endeavor.

Investment: $28.8M in 263 enterprises (as of Jun. 2008), $230M total mobilized

Business Development Services Provided: 1030 enterprises provided with business development services (as of Jun. 2008)

Now (2008): E+Co has eight offices around the globe, employs over 50 people, invested $XXM in 2008 alone and is continuing to grow.

Outcomes/Impacts: See the section on the Triple Bottom Line as well as the full chart.
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1) E+Co's role in the value chain:
E+Co provides just one link in the value chain creating sustainable energy enterprises.

Back to top2) The logic behind the model:
  1. If you care about the environment and about human development, you must pay attention to the energy sector in the developing world. It is where the fastest growth in energy use is occurring (think global GHG emissions), where the most local environmental damage is occurring, and where human development is most stunted, partly due to lack of reliable modern energy access.
  2. The only way to tack the problems of the energy sector in the developing world is through a self-sustaining enterprise-centered approach. The scale of the challenge is such that all the governments and aid agencies do not have the resources available to simply "fix" the problem. Part of this limitation involves the relatively low percentage of aid that actually reaches the target population. Another side of the story involves the limited cost recovery that is usually achieved.
  3. The only way to create viable, financially self-sustaining energy enterprises where they are needed is to pursue a strategy of local empowerment; no one else is ultimately going to have the ability or motivation see an entrepreneurial endeavor successfully implemented. A "champion" is the driving force behind the enterprise approach.
  4. Achieving local empowerment involves two main things: the provision of services (the building of human capital in the areas of business planning, technological transfer, and financial literacy) and the provision of capital. Capacity building and access to finance are the two greatest barriers to enterprise development.
  5. The provision of services and capital (especially to developing country clean energy entrepreneurs) requires a specialty organization; run-of-the mill development organizations and governments rarely have all the expertise needed to provide this combination of services and capital.
  6. Those specialty organizations, because of the quasi-charitable, quasi-commercial nature of their work, will have have to blend resources from both donor and investor sources. Purely grant-based donors with a public purpose often do not accept that their resources should be used for commercial gain. Pure investor-type organizations are often unwilling to accept financial returns far below the market average.

Back to top3) Picturing the model:


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Social Returns (as of Jun. 2008)


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Environmental Returns (as of Jun. 2008)


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Financial Returns (as of Jun. 2008)


Download the full Triple Bottom Line Impacts Table (as of Jun. 2008):
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Many of the lessons learned are similar to those from the AREED program which can be found here ->
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