Partnership story

Rural Energy Enterprise Development (REED) progamme encourages sustainability


UNEP’s Rural Energy Enterprise Development (REED) progam supports the development of local-level renewables enterprises in Africa, Brazil, China, and India, supporting the development of business plans and finding access to seed capital, with the help of various partners.

REED is a flagship UNEP Energy effort focused on enterprise development and seed financing for clean energy entrepreneurs in developing countries. Today REED programmes are operating in five countries of West and Southern Africa, Northeast Brazil and China’s Yunnan Province. This energy through enterprise model has been pioneered by the clean energy investor E+Co and advanced by a partnership between UNEP, E+Co, the UN Foundation, the W. Alton Jones Foundation and a diverse group of country enterprise development partners.

The African programme, AREED, is the most advanced to date with debt and equity investments in 25 clean energy enterprises. These investments, ranging in scale from $20,000 to $120,000, have seeded businesses in the areas of solar crop drying, sawmill waste charcoal production, efficient cook stove manufacture, wind water pumping, solar water heating, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) distribution and energy efficiency. REED investments are placed in small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs) that deal in clean energy products and services, a sector generally considered too risky to attract conventional sources of finance. An underlying goal of REED deal structures is to prepare young enterprises for later growth capital from more commercial sources. A young enterprise that services a first loan from REED is well positioned to attract later financing from a local bank.