Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency

Driving Green Lending in Sub-Saharan Africa

July 20222 min readClimate FinanceGreen Lending

When the top management at Letshego Holdings Limited, a regulated and publicly listed NBFI headquartered in Botswana, committed to incorporating green lending into their strategy, they did it not only for the climate, but also because they could see that it was a savvy move to ensure long-term growth and enhance product differentiation. This was a classic win-win by any definition. But they didn’t have any prior experience in the field, which is why they started working with responsAbility’s climate team to guarantee successful onboarding, early-stage buy-in within the organization, and eventual fund utilization. So while they currently provide retail financial services in 11 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, they decided to focus the investment from responsAbility’s climate fund on Ghana, Tanzania and Nigeria, with the aim to expand to the other markets over time.

Leading the way to green housing and green appliances in Ghana:

responsAbility energy specialists led several workshops to raise awareness about of the idea and potential for green Affordable Housing in Ghana. Subsequently, leveraging the support of a Green Architect, the first Green Housing Prototypes were developed, all of which achieve energy, water and materials savings well in excess of 20%, using only locally available materials and at zero or no incremental cost. With the close support of these energy specialists, the Letshego Ghana team developed a financial product and commenced the pilot with the construction of a prototype home.

In addition to green Affordable Housing, Letshego Ghana became the first Financial Institution in the country to join the innovative energy-efficient appliances program called ECOFRIDGES GO, which is led by UNEP U4E, the Basel Agency for Sustainable Energy (BASE), and the Ghana Energy Commission (for a description of the program, see this TV ad). ECOFRIDGES GO was designed to leverage Letshego’s deduction-at-source lending solution, thereby making energy-efficient air conditioners and refrigerators that tend to have higher upfront costs, accessible to more Ghanaians. Last but not least, Letshego Ghana replaced all of their retail branches AC’s with ECOFRIDGES GO models, using them to demonstrate the appliances for interested customers. They have even started promoting the program at local clinics, schools and universities as well.

Laying the groundwork for renewable energy and energy efficiency in Tanzania and Nigeria:

Two separate Portfolio & Market Screenings were commissioned by responsAbility’s Technical Assistance Facility (TAF) to identify potential growth sectors directly relevant to Letshego’s customer segments. Through interviews with Letshego Tanzania and Nigeria’s management, customers (existing and potential), local technology suppliers, private companies and government agencies, the TAF mandated consultant identified strong potential for small scale solar PV (<20kW), EE/electric vehicles, EE appliances and green construction as potential products that would fit Letshego’s customer demographic. These products are readily used in local schools, hospitals and clinics.

Building on the market mapping, responsAbility’s energy specialists are supporting Letshego with green lending Strategy & Implementation Workshops to define Green Lending Roadmaps and Plans.

Find out more about how we drive green lending in our climate fund impact report: Climate Fund Impact Report