In this blog, we are happy to celebrate Sarah Bieber, winner of the 2022 International Award Winner, who was announced by the Clean Energy Education and Empowerment (C3E) Initiative. The C3E initiative is a collaboration between The U.S. Department of Energy, MIT Energy Initiative, Stanford University’s Precourt Institute for Energy, and the Texas A&M Energy Institute. The C3E Awards recognizes mid-career women who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and accomplishments in clean energy.

The 2022 award was given to Sarah Bieber, head of energy partnerships at Acumen – a nonprofit investment fund that supports businesses whose products and services are enabling the poor to transform their lives. She oversees a global team that aims to provide access to clean energy for the over 730 million people without it. She brings together various groups such as donors, businesses, and other organizations to develop strategies and form partnerships that invest in clean energy companies that serve low-income communities. From 2018 to 2021, Bieber was responsible for Acumen’s Pioneer Energy Investment Initiative (PEII), a $22 million program that reduces risk for energy enterprises that are dedicated to helping the poor. She also played a key role in creating an initiative to use creative financial methods to bring clean energy access to hard-to-reach areas, particularly in fragile and conflict-affected countries.

Here are three examples of projects that Sarah led in Africa:

West Africa
Easy Solar is paving the way for off-grid energy access in Sierra Leone through pay-as-you-go technology, allowing low-income customers to use mobile money to make payments. Easy Solar’s online platform allows the company to track where payments stand at all times while empowering its agents to serve their customers. The company is building a brand based on trust, enabling it to overcome many of the hurdles in delivering energy solutions in a new market. Low-income households impacted by Easy Solar have the ability to purchase reliable clean energy products for the first time. Operating since 2016, Easy solar has reached more than 7,000 customers in their first two years in business.

East Africa
PowerGen installs mini-grids, or off-grid electricity generators, to provide reliable, grid-quality power while reducing indoor air pollution and cutting household costs. PowerGen’s mini-grids help low-income people in rural sub-Saharan Africa access energy for commercial purposes, generating more income and lifting themselves out of poverty. PowerGen has installed over 60 mini-grids across Kenya and Tanzania, connecting over 10,000 customers to clean energy. The company’s goal is to reach 50,000 customers by 2024.

RVE.SOL constructs off-grid electricity generators—powered almost entirely by renewable energy such as solar, biomass and hydropower—in rural Kenyan communities. RVE.SOL also uses energy from its KUDURA mini-grids to create and sell purified drinking water in the rural communities where it operates. RVE.SOL has served over 2,100 customers across Kenya—71% of whom live on less than $3.10 per day. The company has reduced its customers’ energy costs by 75%.

Congratulations Sarah and we wish you many more successes in your career!

Mohamed Alhaj

Dr. Mohamed Alhaj is a young energy leader, a competent sustainable energy consultant, and an expert researcher. He is the founder and managing director of Terra Energy - a Rwanda-based clean energy consulting firm.

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