The Financial Power of the Group: How Demand Aggregation Can Enable Consumer Financing for Renewable Energy Products

This post originally appeared on NextBillion.

By Umang Prabhakar and Manisha Pandita

In Northern India close to the Arabian Sea, salt farmers known asagariyas harvest salt in large pans from sub-surface brine. Every day during the seven-month-long production season, they labor for eight to 10 hours pumping, channeling, scraping and piling salt in salt pans. As they work, their diesel pumps, which help them harvest, run for over 16 hours a day. When the season ends, farmers typically amass about 150,000 Indian rupees in income (about $2,356 U.S. dollars). But after subtracting the cost of inputs, they’re left with only about 5,000 rupees (about $80 U.S. dollars) as savings.

A salt farmer in northern India. Photo credit: ccarlstead, via Flickr

A salt farmer in northern India. Photo credit: ccarlstead, via Flickr

Solar-powered pumps could help these farmers save much more. By swapping expensive diesel for solar power, farmers’ savings could go up substantially, as up to 60 percent of their income is spent on diesel and associated fuel costs. But without access to local financing to purchase solar pumps individually, the cost of the pump itself – ranging from 100,000 to 150,000 Indian rupees (about $1,575 to $2,360 U.S. dollars) – is prohibitively expensive.

However, Dalberg estimates that if farmers made a 20 percent down payment on a solar pump, and were charged market rates of interest (10-25 percent), they would be able to repay a loan for a solar pump in three years from the savings generated by the pump.  To help farmers realize the benefits of renewable energy in salt farming, we explored financing options for solar water pumps in the Little Rann of Kutch, a salt marsh located in Gujarat, North India.

Financing Options for Solar Water Pumps

On the one hand, there has been increasing activity in consumer financing for renewable energy in India. A few examples include Yes Bank, the Central Bank of India and Union Bank, which offer a variety of loan products, and Sustainable Agro-commercial Finance Ltd.Bajaj Finserv and Srei Infrastructure Finance Limited, which offer loans for solar lighting, heating and pump products.

However, we found that salt farmers in the Little Rann of Kutch can’t take advantage of these offerings. Most low-income farmers lack credit and transaction history, and cash and/or assets to offer as collateral – and they don’t have access to a banking branch. Further, the seasonally-linked cash flows of farmers are rarely compatible with fixed payment schedules. In short, institutions are offering financing solutions, but they’re not reaching the farmers most in need.

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Entrepreneur Kaakpema Yelpaala: The Access.Mobile CEO on ClinicCommunicator and Thinking Big

By Faaria Volinski

In 2014, Dalberg alum Kaakpema Yelpaala launched ClinicCommunicator, which allows hospitals and clinics to send important messages to patients like appointment and medication reminders, or information on new health threats. Now widely used in Uganda and Kenya, the system reduces the number of appointments patients miss, minimizes long waits to see a provider, and proactively encourages healthy patient behavior.

Earlier this month, we sat down and spoke with Kaakpema, CEO and founder of – the IT company behind ClinicCommunicator – about his journey into health and technology solutions in East Africa, his personal reflections on entrepreneurship, and how to truly think big.

What inspired you to focus on health systems in particular?

I’ve always been passionate about healthcare. My first social enterprise was a nonprofit organization I founded in 2000, Network for the Improvement of World Health (NIWH), that did rural health work in Ghana. That was an exciting opportunity because both my parents are from Ghana. I had visited Ghana to see family, and I wanted to do more there. My thinking has always been that health is one of the core aspects of international development because I believe you need a healthy population for an economy to thrive.

How did you end up in East Africa?

When I was doing my master’s degree in Public Health at Yale in 2003, President Clinton was just starting his health initiatives in Africa, now called the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI). I got an internship with the Clinton Foundation in Tanzania and helped launch the Tanzania office of CHAI with Edwin Macharia. I spent several years living and working in different parts of East Africa for the Clinton Foundation. In fact, my story is not typical. Many people assume I’m Ugandan – I have an African name, I’ve started a business in Uganda, so I must be Ugandan. But there’s an interesting dimension to this: I have West African heritage, I founded a social enterprise in Ghana, I grew up in the US, and I worked in East Africa. So for me, this story is one of the African diaspora. I think a big part of the story of African development is how the diaspora engages in their countries of origin and in African markets as a whole.

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Infographic: How to Make Innovative Finance Work

By Serena Guarnaschelli

The concept of innovative financing – which focuses on programs that deliver results and support collaboration between the public and private sector – holds promise to unlock much-needed funding for development. But amidst the many concepts and proposals, it is not always clear what will work and when.

The infographic below outlines key steps to consider and examples of innovative financing in practice:


Infographic design by Pragya Mishra

Learn more about the newest thinking and developments in innovative financing for development:

Convergence: The World’s First Platform Blending Private, Public, and Philanthropic Capital for the Greater Good

Unlocking 90 Billion Needed Dollars for Development in Sub-Saharan Africa

Blended Finance: Catalyzing Private Capital for Development Impact

Innovative Financing for Development: Scalable Business Models that Produce Economic, Social, and Environmental Outcomes

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Slideshow: Empowering Women to Use the Mobile Internet

By Robert Fabricant & Younghee Jung

In developing countries, the number of unique subscribers using mobile internet has grown from 728 million in 2010 to 1.8 billion in 2014. This growth has profound implications for women’s economic, social, and political empowerment – mobile internet can help women access resources like entrepreneurship opportunities, affordable healthcare, and peer learning platforms. However, women continue to lag behind men in both mobile phone ownership and internet access in developing countries.

Dalberg partnered with GSMA’s Connected Women and Digital Inclusion teams to analyze the challenges women face when using the mobile internet. In the report “Accelerating Digital Literacy: Empowering Women to Use the Mobile Internet,” findings from ethnographic research conducted in Kenya, India, and Indonesia demonstrate how women learn digital literacy skills, the limited opportunities women have to explore and increase their knowledge, and practical recommendations for stakeholders to enable women’s learning. The slideshow below shares the experience of Sophie, a persona that is representative of the desires and challenges women face in areas where mobile internet access and skills are limited.

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Beyond training, there are many opportunities to increase value and use of the internet for women, from improvements to user interface design to providing tailored search mechanisms in key areas like health and employment pre-populated with local content sources. This will require cooperation across stakeholders: mobile network operators, donors and NGOs, governments, developers, application and service providers, and research organizations. Whatever approach we take, it is important to build on existing mobile use patterns – which are dominated by communication and messaging platforms – and not assume that mobile internet literacy in the future will be equated with URLs, web browsers, search engines, and app stores.

Read the full report, “Accelerating Digital Literacy: Empowering Women to Use the Mobile Internet>>

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Beat the Heat: Inclusive Preparedness for India’s Heat Waves

By Ashwin Chandrasekhar

This summer, India witnessed its second deadliest heat wave on record – over 2,500 people died due to scorching temperatures.

Photo by Subhendu Sarkar via Getty Images.

Photo by Subhendu Sarkar via Getty Images.

India’s heat waves are part of a climate change-driven cycle. Records over the last 10 years show that heat waves are happening in India more frequently than ever before. Globally, land areas affected by heat waves are expected to double by 2020. A heat wave is a period of abnormally hot – and usually humid – weather, where the daily maximum temperature exceeds historical average temperatures for the season in a given area by at least five degrees Celsius. Unlike other disasters, heat kills silently and slowly – the effects of climate change are subtle, unlike other weather events like hurricanes or floods, and often do not jumpstart the necessary measures to save lives.

When temperatures rise, India’s poor are most affected and least able to cope. Between 1979 and 1999, Punjab state withstood 17 heat waves, while Odisha state witnessed 15. However, in the much less developed Odisha State the death toll was five times higher than in Punjab.

Preparedness is Crucial for Resilience in the Next Wave

Now that the monsoons have reached India, albeit late, it is worth considering how India can prepare for the next heat wave. Long-term investment in  preparedness will not only save lives, it will also help minimize the economic costs – for example, reduced income combined with unexpected healthcare costs for vulnerable populations, and crop losses from continued global warming that could amount to US $208 billion by 2050 for wheat, rice, and maize alone.

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Infographic: ICT Tools Enable a More Effective Ebola Response

Since the Ebola outbreak began in West Africa over a year ago, deep vulnerabilities and disparities in the health systems of the hardest-hit countries have been exposed.

But the crisis has also unearthed emergency responses that worked to mitigate Ebola’s spread, including technology-centered tactics that we can learn from to prepare for the future.

Dalberg analyzed how new or repurposed applications and online platforms in West Africa have helped governments and health workers inform communities about Ebola, and track and contain the virus. From contact tracing apps to messaging systems, technology offers new, adaptable possibilities to spread and gather information for an inclusive and empowering crisis response.


This infographic is from the Dalberg report, From Response to Recovery in the Ebola Crisis: Revitalizing Health Systems and Economies, which presents a portfolio of ideas on short- and long-term recovery from the Ebola crisis. Read the full report>>

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Savings Groups Fuel Digital Design for Smallholders in Rwanda

This article originally appeared on CGAP.

By Sebastian Barrera, Montana Cherney, Melanie Kahl, and Ashish Kumar

It’s no secret that savings groups are the lifeblood of the informal financial economy, especially for smallholder households in developing economies such as Rwanda. Savings groups are seen as a social and financial safety net for those who weather seasonal hardships related to the variability of their harvest or unforeseen emergencies.

After seven weeks on the ground in Rwanda taking a human-centered design approach and interviewing over 75 farmers, banking officials, traders, co-ops, and savings groups, it is apparent that a deeper understanding of these groups provides key insights to drive the design of new digital financial services and products. The following is a glimpse into our early insights and their implications for designing mobile financial solutions.

1. Savings groups have the ambition to grow, but often lack the systems or knowledge to translate their financial goals into reality.

Many savings groups who gain momentum in size, both in membership and finances, see a parallel rise in their collective aspirations. Savings groups on the cusp have ambitious goals – they seek larger loans, more profitable investments, and community revitalization. However, they often lack the knowledge, leadership, and formal tools to take actionable steps towards these ambitions. This is complicated by the cumbersome nature of manual management and the lack of reinvestment into the collective.

A mobile-based financial channel for savings groups can equip them with a more usable management platform and translate their implicit rules, disciplines, and processes into better mechanisms for understanding their own potential – such as better tracking of payments and contributions and assessment of member creditworthiness.

Fulgence has been part of a 70-member savings and loan association for six years and as the deputy president she has witnessed the group grow over time. She feels confident that being in an SLA is just the first step in becoming a co-op, but she mentions, “I don’t quite know how to make the transformation happen.”

Fulgence has been part of a 70-member savings and loan association (SLA) for six years and as the Deputy President she has witnessed the group grow over time. She feels confident that being in an SLA is just the first step in becoming a co-op, but she mentions, “I don’t quite know how to make the transformation happen.”

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Infographic: How to Respond to an Outbreak – Success Factors for Fighting Off Ebola

This post originally appeared on Huffington Post Impact.

Over a year has passed since the Ebola outbreak in West Africa began. In that narrow window of time, the disease has claimed more than 10,000 lives, stalled economic growth, and hampered – if not reversed – gains the region had made in strengthening public health infrastructure and service delivery.

And yet, as dire as the crisis has been, hope is emerging. The pace of new cases is slowing. The fear of a truly global pandemic has subsided. We are transitioning from emergency response to longer-term recovery – a very welcome sign.

As we take stock of the crisis and the toll it has taken, it’s also worth noting what went right in our collective responses. How can we make sure the next health crisis is not so deadly? Examining the success factors for an effective emergency response may be a good start.

Dalberg studied how Senegal and Nigeria eliminated Ebola within their borders to put together the below infographic. See what worked and why:


This infographic is from a new Dalberg report, From Response to Recovery in the Ebola Crisis: Revitalizing Health Systems and Economies. The report presents a portfolio of ideas on where to go from here, including how we might develop creative incentives to support emerging leaders and design innovative financing products. We hope to seed a broader conversation with these ideas, and to spark collective action by governments, civil society, foundations, and international agencies in service of the Ebola-affected region of West Africa.

Join the conversation with us – reach out to us in the comments below or on social media: @DalbergTweet on Twitter and on Facebook.

Infographic research by Kabura Ciugu of Dalberg.

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Curbing Transfer Mispricing: A Regional Approach

By Modou Fall

Every year, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) loses billions of US dollars because some subsidiaries of multinational corporations based in the region pay less tax than they should. This lost tax revenue from Nigeria’s crude oil exports or Liberia’s timber sales, for example, represents a crucial but missing source for development financing to meet the region’s economic growth targets and human development goals.

Transfer Pricing By The Numbers

A recent study by Dalberg, commissioned by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, estimates that West African states lost roughly US $3 billion in tax revenues in 2011 due to transfer mispricing. Dalberg projects these losses will reach US $14 billion in 2018 if current trends continue.

So what exactly is transfer mispricing? About 60 percent of trade between West African states and the rest of the world occurs within branches or subsidiaries of the same single corporation. In such transactions, some multinational corporations can artificially lower or increase their prices in order to shift taxable profits from West African states to another country with lower tax rates, enabling them to hold on to a larger portion of their profits.

MagnitudeIllicitFinFlowsMost concerning is how transfer mispricing deprives West Africa from badly needed domestic resources that could be put toward potentially transformative social and economic projects. For instance, if measures had been taken to effectively curb transfer mispricing, West African states would have collected an additional US $15 billion between 2012 and 2014. These funds are more than enough to cover the US $11.3 billion financing gap outlined in the ECOWAS Regional Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, which aims to ensure poverty eradication in the region.

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Lutte contre la manipulation des prix de transfert : une approche régionale

Par Modou Fall

Chaque année, la Communauté économique des États de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (CEDEAO) perd des milliards de dollars du fait que des filiales certaines sociétés multinationales implantées dans la région paient moins que leur juste part d’impôts. Cette perte de recettes fiscales découlant, par exemple, des exportations de pétrole brut du Nigeria ou des ventes de bois d’œuvre du Libéria, représente une ressource primordiale de financement pour atteindre les objectifs de croissance économique et de développement humain de la région.

Manipulation des prix de transfert en chiffres

Une étude récemment conduite par Dalberg à la demande de l’Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) estime que les pays de l’Afrique de l’Ouest ont perdu environ trois milliards de dollars en recettes fiscales en 2011 en raison de manipulation des prix de transfert. Dalberg prévoit que ces pertes pourront atteindre 14 milliards de dollars en 2018 si les tendances actuelles se poursuivent.

Qu’est-ce que la manipulation des prix de transfert ? Environ 60 pour cent des échanges commerciaux entre les pays de l’Afrique de l’Ouest et le reste du monde s’effectuent entre entreprises succursales ou filiales d’un même groupe. Dans de telles transactions, certaines sociétés multinationales peuvent artificiellement réduire ou augmenter leurs prix afin de transférer une partie du bénéfice imposable des États d’Afrique de l’Ouest vers d’autres pays dont les taux d’imposition sont plus faibles. Ce mécanisme leur permet de conserver une plus grande partie de leurs bénéfices.


La manipulation des prix de transfert est préoccupante car elle prive l’Afrique de l’Ouest de ressources intérieures qui pourraient être mises à contribution pour la réalisation des projets à fort potentiel d’impact socioéconomique. Sans manipulation des prix de transfert, les États d’Afrique de l’Ouest auraient par exemple perçu 15 milliards de dollars supplémentaires de recettes fiscales entre 2012 et 2014. Ces fonds sont nettement suffisants pour couvrir le déficit de 11,3 milliards de dollars pour financer le Document de Stratégie de Réduction de la Pauvreté de la CEDEAO, qui vise à accélérer la croissance et réduire la pauvreté dans la région.

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