Tearfund & PRACTICA Foundation

Energising youth with green entrepreneurship

Access to modern and clean energy is a goal that can only be reached through hard work, and a lot of it. As an organisation that aims to tackle poverty around the world through sustainable development, Tearfund naturally set its sight on the work opportunities that the transformation to modern and clean energy could provide and thereby alleviate poverty in certain communities. When Tearfund’s country directors shared their specific concerns on youth unemployment in fragile contexts, and how these youths could potentially get caught up in the dynamics of conflict, Tearfund decided to join the Human Accelerator Programme to share the challenge they were thus facing: how can we promote market-based renewable energy solutions that can engage unemployed youth?  

Bridging the gap 

The idea is clear: entrepreneurial youth could help to bridge the gap to clean energy access and its productive use. For the ‘want’ stage, Tearfund was encouraged to get a clearer and more detailed articulation of the challenge they were facing. One product in the modern and clean energy sector that is increasingly in demand and could provide job opportunities is the solar panel. Although solar panels are cheap to run, they are often too expensive for young unemployed people to purchase. So, the more clearly stated challenge is: how can Tearfund help these people to set up a business in the provision of solar panels? 

Working towards a solid foundation 

Thomas Giblin, Global Economic Empowerment Specialist at Tearfund: “you need to be pushed a bit to go through all the detailed steps. Writing out our challenge was very helpful as it provoked a process of thinking and dialogue which clarified things for us. It took many layers and goals and so on, but the time available to that and the exercise itself ended up being a very solid foundation that we could work on with our partner.” 

Partnering up 

The partner that Tearfund had found in the ‘find’ stage was PRACTICA Foundation, a non-profit consultancy organisation based in the Netherlands and in Madagascar. The organisation develops and selects affordable technologies that have a high potential to improve livelihoods in low- and middle-income countries, while making sure that these technologies are made available in local contexts. Tearfund will get assistance from PRACTICA in the communities where they are already involved by providing low-cost, robust modular technology. The pilot project will start in in Goma, in Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  

An innovative combination  

For the pilot, Tearfund and PRACTICA will work together with a youth incubation centre in Goma to accelerate green entrepreneurship. The organisations will make an inventory and mapping of all green entrepreneurship start-ups around renewable energy to identify required need for support. Business mentoring and coaching schemes will be provided to enhance skills and knowledge. The start-ups will receive support to get access to seed funding to accelerate business activities. The green businesses identified and promoted by youth-led small-scale social enterprises will be practical business solutions to current environmental challenges in the sector of agriculture, aquaculture, water, and waste recycling.  

Calculating for the future   

This innovative combination of business incubation and technical support at demonstration sites to adopt new technologies, and access to seed funding, will enable youth to become green entrepreneurs. Tearfund and PRACTICA will start with the project in Goma. But first, the organisations will further explore viability of various business models around green entrepreneurship. Cornelis de Schipper, International Program Coordinator at Tearfund: “For the ‘get’ stage, the feedback and the input of the investors’ panel was very valuable. They challenged us to look a bit more at how we can make it commercial and how we can organise it from a market perspective. We need to do some calculations and fill the gap that currently still exists in that area.” 

Contacts and interactions 

The promising partnership with PRACTICA is not the only positive outcome of Tearfund’s participation in the Humanitarian Accelerator Programme. Thomas Giblin, Global Economic Empowerment Specialist at Tearfund: “A huge success for me was the amount of learning and the partnerships and contacts we could establish. We have had several good informative sessions with Kaalo on fish farming, I learned a lot on mini-grids and containerised batteries which could be of value in Goma, we are working on a second challenge with Butterfly Works in Nigeria, and I have had some constructive exchanges with Dorcas on how to power the production of briquettes.”  

Innovation steps towards impact


How do we help youth in fragile conflict-prone contexts to set up a business in the provision of renewable energy? 

Youth employment is a real challenge today. However, we believe that economically and environmentally sustainable initiatives can provide solutions to this challenge. For young people to access decent jobs is not just essential for their future, but for the future of our local communities, our countries and our global society. Conversely, young people are particularly vulnerable to poverty if unemployed and some get caught up in crime and violence that increases fragility.


Tearfund & PRACTICA 

Tearfund found a partner in PRACTICA as they have an extensive experience in supporting communities and entrepreneurs to adopt low cost, robust modular technology.

Tearfund and PRACTICA, supported by a youth incubation centre in Goma, will accelerate local entrepreneurship by business mentoring and coaching schemes, access to finance, combined with demonstration sites providing opportunities to adopt new technologies  


Youth incubation centre  

Young people are inspired and innovative people; and if well equipped, especially for green entrepreneurship, they can play a great role in realizing the future they want and transforming their community. 

Energising youth in fragile settings to become green entrepreneurs will boost sustainable local development  


Green entrepreneurship

Tearfund and PRACTICA want to start with about 25 farmer/youth groups in South Sudan/DRC and eventually scale up to about 300 or more groups.

Movement for modern energy in humanitarian settings

Read the challenges of the Humanitarian Organisations involved in the Accelerator Programme. Would you like to share your energy stories, challenge or solutions? Submit it to our demand and supply platform, Source2Gather. Or join us at the upcoming Energy and Innovation Summit on 13 April 2021. We’re committed to matching today’s challenges with tomorrow’s solutions.

Access To Modern Energy Programme

The AME programme is about doing new things to solve problems and improve the quality of renewable energy access in humanitarian programmes around the world. Access to Modern Energy is increasingly recognized as an area of humanitarian concern. If communities affected by crises go without proper access to energy, it becomes impossible for them to meet the basic needs of life. The programme enables humanitarian organisations to be the catalysts for tackling specific energy challenges, whilst opening themselves up to receiving the knowledge and business insights from energy experts and private-sector partnerships. Ultimately, the projects will provide local insights for humanitarian partnerships to enable cost efficiency and improve quality of humanitarian work.  DCHI brings together humanitarian organisations, research and educational institutes, businesses of all sizes and governmental actors. The coalition enables them to jointly find, develop and scale innovative solutions. 

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