ACCESS TO CLEAN ENERGY THROUGH MICROFINANCE (CLEANSTART) REQUEST FOR EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST from Financial Service Providers Operating in Uganda

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1 ACCESS TO CLEAN ENERGY THROUGH MICROFINANCE (CLEANSTART) REQUEST FOR EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST from Financial Service Providers Operating in Uganda Deadline for Submission: Monday, 14 April, 2014 (12:00noon Uganda time) I. Introduction The UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), in collaboration with the Ministry of Energy & Mineral Development, is launching a Request for Expressions of Interest (EoI) for the Access to Clean Energy for the Poor through Microfinance (CleanStart)programme in Uganda. The EoI is open to eligible financial service providers (FSPs) who have retail operations in Uganda. The programme will award grants and technical assistance to leading FSPs to create new financing models and expand their energy access portfolio, in particular to provide microfinance for clean energy solutions to low-income households and micro-entrepreneurs in areas which are underserviced at the moment. CleanStart will operate over a period of four years ( ) in Uganda, and provide business development support to at least three qualified financial institutions. After reviewing responses to this EoI, CleanStart will invite shortlisted FSPs to participate in a structured training on business plan development for energy lending (pre-investment support). Financial institutions that have participated in this initial stage will later be invited to respond to a Request for Application (RFA) as part of the final process of selecting grantees. Refer to Section IV. Selection Process for more details. The CleanStart programme focuses on improving access to modern energy and contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by assisting poor households and microentrepreneurs to obtain access to sustainable low-cost, clean energy solutions through microfinance. By end of the programme in Uganda, more than 40,000 low income households and micro-entrepreneurs (200,000 beneficiaries) will have access to clean energy through microfinance. Implementation will be based on the CleanStart Business Plan Uganda, which will first be cleared by the Government of Uganda.

2 II. Background Potential of clean energy and need for end-user finance Energy access remains a considerable challenge for many ordinary Ugandans. This is confirmed in the Government s Rural Electrification Strategy and Plan for : Rural electrification is an integral component of the Government s overall policy and program to promote national economic and social development and integration. Currently, less than 7% of the rural population has electricity service. This level of electrification is an impediment to the achievement of the desired transformation. The RESP , therefore, has been designed to achieve a much faster acceleration of national geographical coverage and consumer access than hitherto. Microfinance is well-placed to address this financial barrier, particularly in Uganda where the microfinance sector is maturing. A growing challenge for FSPs in Uganda is not liquidity to finance loan portfolios, but limited growth of their lending portfolio within the existing client base. Clean energy financing is a profitable and cost effective strategy for FSPs to introduce a new product to an existing client base in a market that has high-growth potential. While a few financing mechanisms have been tested, there is still a lack of viable financing mechanisms that are tailored to the energy and financing needs of the poor. While financial service providers acknowledge the financial and social benefits of offering financial products in this area, it is not offered on a wide scale due to lack of familiarity and perceived high risk. Offering financial products for energy technologies and services require strong partnerships with energy suppliers, modified lending practices or non-conventional ways of assessing credit based on potential savings. Financial service providers are also reluctant to put their portfolio and reputation at risk due to potential technology failure - particularly given operations and maintenance is a weak link in the energy supply chain. However, if done right clean energy financing has several advantages, including: 1) Addition of a new product-line in high-growth market segment. Clean energy financing presents a strong value proposition to FSPs in terms of adding a new product line with significant latent demand and high growth potential over the next years. 2) Greater viability and prospects for FSPs core loans and savings services The ability of clean energy technologies to either reduce household expenditure or to increase incomes presents a potential breakthrough solution for FSPs struggling with declining yields from their existing loan and client portfolios. 3) Carbon Markets: A potential revenue stream and quality assurance mechanism Carbon financing not only provides a potential revenue stream for FSPs, but also provides a natural incentive for suppliers to monitor the quality of the technology chosen for lending. 2

3 III. Goals and Outcomes of CleanStart (i) CleanStart Global CleanStart aims to support 2.5 million poor people to obtain access to reliable and affordable clean energy through microfinance. To this end, CleanStart will support 18 FSPs across six countries in Asia and Africa to build their capacity in providing financing for clean energy systems. In parallel, the programme will also strengthen the supply chains of technologies being financed and advocate for policy and business environments that promote the growth of energy markets serving low-income people. It is a six-year global programme ( ) jointly implemented by the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), and funded by UNCDF, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), and Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), the Austrian Development Cooperation and the Lichtenstein Government. Globally, up to 600,000 energy loans are expected to be disbursed through partner institutions by (ii) CleanStart Uganda CleanStart in Uganda will be fully aligned with the priorities of the Government of Uganda on energy access for Base-of-the-Pyramid clients. It is fully aligned with the Government s vision of universal electricity access by 2040 and envisages close cooperation with Government to work towards meeting this objective. This means, CleanStart will contribute to and coordinate with the various government initiatives already underway, including those under the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, such as the activities of the SE4All taskforce and the Rural Electrification Strategy and Plan This would include accelerating the pace electricity access and service penetration, as well as modern forms of energy services to replace kerosene lighting and other forms of traditional cooking and heating. CleanStart will operate over a period of three and half years ( ) in Uganda and provide business development support to at least three qualified financial institutions. CleanStart will also assist partner energy suppliers in offering technologies or services that meet the needs of the low-income market segment and strengthen their supply chains, particularly in operations and maintenance. By 2017, up to 40,000 energy loans are expected to be disbursed collectively through partner institutions. This translates into 200,000 additional people having access to improved energy technologies or services in Uganda. Implementation will be based on the CleanStart Business Plan - Uganda (pending clearance by the Government of Uganda). For ideas on how CleanStart operates at the country level please refer to the CleanStart Business Plan for Nepal on the UNCDF website: SINESS%20PLAN.pdf 1 For more background information on the CleanStart global programme refer to UNCDF website 3

4 In Uganda, CleanStart will focus on delivering four outputs: 1. Strengthened capabilities of up to three financial service providers (FSPs) to provide microfinance for clean energy to low-income households and micro-entrepreneurs; 2. Sustainable deployment of clean energy technologies and services for which the selected FSPs will provide microfinance; 3. Better awareness and understanding of the potential for microfinance to stimulate adoption of clean energy, and to improved skills in clean energy microfinance; 4. Creating an enabling policy and business environments to expand microfinance for clean energy. IV. Selection process and areas of support from CleanStart CleanStart seeks to partner with FSPs that share this commitment to provide low-income households and micro-entrepreneurs in Uganda with microfinance for clean energy solutions, and that are willing to contribute to the learning process. (i) Selection process a. Request for Expression of Interest Deadline: 14 April, 2014 Out of the submissions received on this request for expression of interest, CleanStart will shortlist up to six (6) FSPs to participate in a structured training on business plan development for energy lending (pre-investment support). b. Pre-investment support: Business plan development Indicative timing: Quarter 2, 2014 The business plan development training combines both exposure visits and in-class sessions. The objective of the exposure visit is to enable participants to interact with financial institutions that already have significant experience in energy microfinance and learn from their trials and errors of introducing energy financial products, and the day-to-day operational issues. The in-class sessions will be a participatory workshop which takes participants through a step-by-step process of formulating a business plan that will later guide the development of financial products around clean energy technologies or services. The workshop is scheduled for second quarter of c. Request for Application for short-listed institutions Indicative timing: Quarter 2, 2014 After the training, the shortlisted FSPs will be invited to respond to a Request for Application (RFA). Eligible institutions (a maximum of three in this initial RFA round) that submit sound and promising business plans will be awarded risk-capital grants and technical assistance for up to a three-year period ( ) to help develop a sustainable energy portfolio in partnership with qualified energy suppliers. The RFA is scheduled for the second quarter of

5 d. Due diligence and CleanStart Investment Committee approval Indicative timing: Quarter 2, 2014 A thorough due diligence, including reference and data checks and on-site visits to the FSPs under consideration, will be made to verify the FSP s management and operational abilities to perform according to the anticipated agreement. e. Finalization of Performance-based Agreements Indicative timing: Quarter 3, 2014 After clearing the due diligence process, representatives from both parties (CleanStart and FSPs) will sign a Performance-based Agreement (PBA), which will include initial process milestones (e.g. clean energy product developed and piloted), key performance targets (e.g. outreach, percent female, number of products developed and rolled out, etc.), as well as minimum standards (e.g. endorsement and implementation of client protection principles), and a commitment to reporting through the required monitoring framework. (ii) Types and areas of support Funds and technical assistance may cover a broad range of business development activities including, but not limited to: General Market Analysis Overview of Target Market for Business Plan Management and Operations Roll-out and Phasing of Programme Organization, Leadership and Partnership Arrangements Partnership Models and Innovation Financial Projections (including own resources) SWOT and Risk Mitigation Strategy Technical Assistance Requirements revenues that could be generated from energy microfinance, including carbon revenues The total amount of funding available for FSPs under the forthcoming RFA is expected to be USD 360,000. CleanStart plans to award up to three (3) grants (average USD 120,000 per FSP). The grant is not meant as capital for lending. FSPs which perform well or develop innovative approaches may be eligible for additional grants later in the programme. V. Eligibility Requirements To be eligible for this Request for Expressions of Interest (EoI), FSPs should fulfill at a minimum the following criteria: 1. Licensed with the Bank of Uganda; 2 2. Client base of at least 20,000 active borrowers at the time of application reaching directly or through partner institutions; 2 Licensed FSPs should meet BoU capital adequacy and prudential ratio requirements. 5

6 3. Progressive improvement in financial performance for the last three years, against a range of indicators including (but not limited to) Portfolio at Risk (PAR) > 30 days, an Operational Self Sufficiency (OSS) and Financial Self Sufficiency (FSS) of at least 100%,, a positive ROA and a healthy ROE; 3 4. Track record for leveraging savings, deposits, external debt and/or equity to grow the lending portfolio; 5. Commitment from board and management to invest in energy financing and achieve the objectives of the programme. 6. Audited financial statements for the last three years (latest available, but at least as recent as 2012). While considering submitting an Expression of Interest, interested FSPs may apply either directly or in consortium with energy companies, NGOs or other private entities (e.g. technical assistance consulting firms) if such consortium arrangements enhance the potential of successful implementation of programme objectives. Note: Evaluation criteria for RFA (indicative) Applicants should also take note of the criteria which may be used to evaluate shortlisted institutions and submissions during the RFA process. These may include the following: 1. At least five-years of experience providing financial services for the poor (average loan size/borrower/gni/capita); 2. Sustained growth in lending portfolio over the last three years (balance sheet strengths, financial statements); 3. Profitable over the last three years (ROA/ROE positive, OSS and FSS rates); 4. Well-functioning Management Information System (MIS), including loan tracking; 5. Recent, or commitment to undertake, independent rating; 6. Willingness and ability of the institution to new introduce energy lending products and/or scale up in existing and new target market segments; 7. Willingness to work with SACCOs and/or NGOs to increase outreach; 8. Willingness to enter into strategic partnerships with energy suppliers; commitment to understand impact of energy lending on clients over time and adjust operations accordingly, particularly in light of gender-specific energy and financing needs; 9. Commitment to knowledge management and sharing; 10. Commitment to client protection and transparent pricing as demonstrated by endorsing (or willingness to become a signatory to) the Client Protection Principles of the Smart Campaign (http://smartcampaign.org); 3 Should the FSP be requested for a full application as a result of the EOI, then detailed calculation sheets of these will have to be provided. 6

7 VI. EOI Submissions (i) Submissions The EOI should provide information on how the applicant meets the Eligibility Requirements. The EOI should include at a minimum: 1. Completed Standard Cover Sheet (Annex 1); 2. Up to two pages description of the institution (e.g. mission, current activities and/or products, target clients, number and location of branches); 3. Up to two pages capability statement (e.g. description of how the institution meets the eligibility requirements, experience in energy financing, credentials of prior projects/achievements and prior engagements or agreements with International Development Agencies/Banks); 4. Copies of audited financial statements summaries for the last three years, including: Opinion letters (independent auditor s report) Income Statement, Balance Sheet, Cash Flow statement More detailed audited reports may be asked in the RFA stage, but should not be submitted now. 5. Signed letter from the Chief Executive Officer and signed minutes of the Board of Directors Meeting endorsing the EOI; 6. Additional submission for consortiums only: Signed letter from all consortium members indicating agreement with the consortium, EoI application and respective role as a consortium member The submission should all be made in one combined PDF file (less than 9MB or our Outlook account will not accept it; if the file is larger, please use Dropbox and send us the link). Submissions with multiple files and attachments may not be considered. For commercial bank or other large financial institution applicants, portfolio and other data should be submitted with the microfinance portfolio broken out. FSPs submitting an EoI as the lead organisation of a consortium are responsible for providing background information of all consortium members. For more information refer to FAQ. Any other relevant information deemed useful in reviewing the submission may be provided additionally. (ii) Deadline and contacts Expressions of Interest are due by 14 April, 2014 (12:00 noon Uganda time), and must be submitted by to with a copy to The subject line of the should state CleanStart Uganda EOI. EOIs must be submitted in English only. 7

8 Submissions will be accepted on a rolling basis, and reviewed on a first come, first served basis. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that its EOI is complete and received by CleanStart on time. CleanStart will confirm, within one month of the submission of the EOI, via , whether the applicant has been shortlisted (all applicants will receive a response). Shortlisted FSPs will be invited to join the training on business plan development in the second quarter of (iii) For more information Refer to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) provided. If you have any queries not covered by the FAQs, or require any further clarification please e- mail with a copy to For more information about UNCDF s background, missions, and activities, please visit our website: For more information specifically on CleanStart, please consult: 8

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