30 November 2020 | On November 17-18, the Clean Cooking Alliance (CCA), in cooperation with GET.invest, hosted the Clean Cooking Investment Series, a virtual convening of leading companies, investors, and other stakeholders from across the clean cooking sector. Over the course of two days, the topics of this invite-only event ranged from investment readiness and asset financing to results-based financing and consumer demand in the clean cooking sector. The virtual event brought together speakers, panelists, and attendees from all over the world who are committed to accelerating progress in the clean cooking sector.
Peter George, CCA’s Senior Director for Private Sector & Investment, kicked off the event on behalf of CCA and highlighted the importance of private sector solutions in achieving scale. He introduced CCA’s Cooking Industry Catalyst as a coordinated effort to build the pipeline of companies offering clean cooking solutions, create robust demand for those solutions, and improve the enabling environment for those companies.
“Attract[ing] local capital and foreign direct investment into the private sector…is important to achieve scale…but also to free up public and philanthropic resources that should instead extend the reach of these commercially viable companies to those consumers at the base of the pyramid who simply lack sufficient purchasing power,” said George.
Michael Franz, Team Leader at GET.invest, welcomed attendees by reflecting on the long history of development efforts around clean cooking. While there are severe consequences to not addressing the challenge of clean cooking, he noted that the evolution of how the problem is being addressed is reason to be optimistic:
“From what I can see, much has changed in recent years,” said Franz. “There is really a new momentum – business models, at a political level, new technology…and finally new financing options being made available that are willing to take the leap into clean cooking.”
Kitty van der Heijden, Director-General for International Cooperation at the Netherlands Ministry for Foreign Affairs, also spoke during the event’s opening remarks, highlighting the tremendous economic and social opportunities that clean cooking presents.
“[Clean cooking] is an agenda of potential and of opportunity – creating jobs, business, economic opportunity, delivering clean air, combating deforestation, contributing to health and supporting the mitigation of the greatest danger to all of us: climate change,” said van der Heijden.
Athena Koulouris, Program Manager at the European Commission in the Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development, shared her insights on the work that the European Union and others are doing to encourage greater investment in the clean cooking sector.
To conclude the opening of the event, Dymphna van der Lans, CEO of CCA, spoke about the magnitude and importance of the challenge of achieving universal access to clean cooking by 2030. With a little over nine years to go, effective intersectoral collaboration is imperative to achieve this vision.
“The time to step up political commitment, financing, policies, and partnerships to accelerate access to clean cooking is now,” said van der Lans.
Following opening remarks, the first day of the event included three panel discussions, the first of which focused on attracting investment and investment readiness. Panelists from Shell Foundation, GET.invest’s Finance Catalyst, Enabling Qapital, and Acumen highlighted how the conversation around investment readiness in the clean cooking sector has evolved considerably just in the last two years since the Clean Cooking Investment Forum in Kigali, Rwanda in 2018.
The panelists concluded by theorizing that this shift in the sector will lead to clean cooking companies mobilizing ever greater amounts of capital over the coming years through demonstrating a strong track record of sustainable, scalable performance. The panelists also highlighted the importance of disintegration in the clean cooking value chain to achieve greater efficiency and scale through specialization and optimization. To do this successfully, financing is required that aligns with these specializations – whether that is financing research and development, inventory, or customer receivables.