The Challenge

Clean energy access is a major constraint for the world’s poor. Over a quarter of the world’s population lacks access to electricity, while some 2 billion people are forced to spend disproportionate amounts of time and resources on traditional biomass for cooking and heating. Where modern energy services are unavailable, people resort to expensive and unsustainable systems, which can exacerbate energy insecurity and leave communities more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. In many countries however, thanks to recent technological developments, efforts to widen access to clean energy now depend less on technology and more on financing arrangements, backed by a policy environment that is focused on serving the poor.

How We Are Helping?

UNCDF has partnered with UNDP to develop CleanStart, a programme to help poor households and micro-entrepreneurs access financing for low-cost clean energy. It creates microfinance opportunities for a clean energy future for low-income people. To scale up energy financing for the poor, Microfinance institutions, which by definition target low-income clients, are well placed to provide the products and services poor households and micro-entrepreneurs need to pursue clean energy opportunities. CleanStart promotes such financing arrangements, supports quality assurance measures and offers advisory services to contribute to a mutually beneficial cycle of investment, awareness-building and the creation of a new, higher return market segment. CleanStart aims to help lift at least 2.5 million people out of energy poverty by 2017, in ways that can be replicated and scaled up by others. This is expected to contribute to the mutually complementary MDGs on poverty and hunger, education, gender, health, environmental sustainability as well as and reduced carbon emissions.

To learn more about CleanStart, please download the CleanStart brochure

In Detail

Additional Information



GoalTo help poor households and micro-entrepreneurs to access financing for low-cost clean energy.
  • Supporting microfinance institutions in developing financing arrangements for clean energy access;
  • Offering quality control and advisory services;
  • Raising clean energy awareness and promoting models that can be replicated and scaled up by others.
Period2012 – 2017
Target Countries


Active InNepal, Uganda.
Seed Funding from DFAT


Total project cost and UNCDF contributionUSD 26,193,525
USD 1,000,000

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