Energy Aid Founded by IBM and Practical Action Launches to Provide Universal Energy Access

New charity dedicated to the global eradication of energy poverty
- Supported by Secretary of State for International Development and United Nations Industrial Development Organization. - Strategy includes a global awareness campaign, an Open Knowledge Base and the creation of an investment fund.
- UN estimates that 1.3 billion people have no access to electricity and a further 1 billion have limited or unreliable access.

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LONDON - 05 Dec 2011: IBM (NYSE: IBM) and international development charity Practical Action today announce the launch of Energy Aid, a new global charity with a mission to provide sustainable energy for those who have limited or no access for heating, lighting, cooking, communications and mechanical work.

Energy Aid recognizes that improved access to energy can be a route out of poverty for the 1.3 billion people globally who have no access to electricity. As a result, the charity will identify and address issues preventing large portions of the population from using electricity safely such as helping the 2.7 billion people a year who cook with biomass, wood, dung, coal and other solid fuels to avoid indoor smoke from cooking stoves[1]. Surpassing the death toll caused by Malaria, indoor smoke kills 1.4 million people each year, most of which are women and children.

Energy Aid will provide investment and resources including data, technology, skills and research across the world's poorest areas including South America, South Asia and sub Saharan Africa. This will support charities and agencies running or planning energy projects in these regions, helping people to find their own way out of energy poverty. Currently more than 80 percent [2] of these energy projects are not achieving their goals and charitable investment is under pressure. This situation highlights the need for a charity that will support local organizations and charities and encourage collaboration between the private, public and charity sectors, which can attract private investment.

"Energy Aid is an excellent initiative and I support their call to business leaders to help address such an important issue," said Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP, Secretary of State for International Development. "Sustainable, reliable energy supplies are vital if businesses in the poorest countries are to grow and develop, while new technology and better use of renewables can bring low carbon energy to many more people. With better access to sustainable energy the poorest will be better placed to lift themselves out of poverty."

The London School of Economics sent researchers to projects in India and Peru to assess how Energy Aid could make a difference. The research discovered many projects would welcome support from a body such as Energy Aid not only with knowledge sharing and awareness programs, but also in terms of guidance on funding access and visibility for projects. The promotion of charities like Energy Aid can place selected energy projects on a recognized international platform along with other successful ones.

"Energy powers human progress, from job generation and economic competitiveness, from strengthening security to empowering women. This is a matter of equity, first and foremost, but it is also an issue of urgent practical importance," said Kandeh Yumkella, Director General, United Nations Industrial Development Organization.

Energy Aid will provide support through three key strategies:

1)  Global campaign: An awareness campaign will launch in 2012 dedicated to raising the issue of energy access in the public conscience. The increased awareness will support fund-raising which will be made available for qualifying member projects.

2)  Open Knowledge Base: An open source of data, resources, technologies and research potentially including information on existing project success stories and databases of people and places in need which will be accessible to NGOs, charities and other bodies to support and provide input to planning and project execution. It is dedicated to reducing the incidence of failure for energy access projects around the world, through support for collaboration between practitioners and the distribution of best practices, insights and experience.

3)  Fund: The Energy Aid fund will raise and invest money into deserving long-term game-changing projects. Operating as a patient investor in high-risk environments, the fund will identify opportunities to create economically viable and sustainable markets, which in turn will attract private investment to achieve extensive scalability.

Founding Partners – IBM and Practical Action

The concept behind Energy Aid emerged from HRH Prince of Wales' 'Start' sustainability summit organized and run by IBM last year. As a founding partner IBM has provided early development support from its workforce to help bring the charity to life, and technology input to the IT and data infrastructure to support the Open Knowledge Base. IBM will continue to develop Open Knowledge Base projects utilizing its analytical and technical capabilities alongside its Smarter Energy expertise. IBM will also give Energy Aid a leading role in its consumer behavior change initiatives while using its extensive network of people and resources to support the awareness campaign.

"Just over a year ago at the IBM Sustainability Summit at Start held in London, one particular idea emerged that has since caught many people's imagination - the idea of Energy Aid. Providing universal energy access is one of the most important challenges of our time but no one organisation can do this alone and collaborative approaches are now needed," said Stephen Leonard, Chief Executive, IBM UK and Ireland, Chair of the Trustees, Energy Aid.

Through the creation of Energy Aid these challenges will now be addressed through collaboration across Government, NGO and commercial organisations. IBM is proud to have been part of the creation and the development of Energy Aid and we remain committed to supporting its emergence as a charity of global importance."

"The creation of Energy Aid was inspired by the work of Practical Action. We have been working for over 40 years with communities providing them with the tools and opportunity they need to lift themselves out of poverty. Practical Action is an expert in energy solutions for the developing world and we are proud to be involved in this exciting initiative," said Simon Trace, CEO Practical Action and Founding Trustee, Energy Aid.

"Achieving universal energy access is a vital step in reducing extreme poverty, but current efforts to address the issue are too fragmented and are not changing the outlook quickly enough," said Jonathan Steel, CEO of Energy Aid.

Our research shows that only a fifth [2] of projects in this space achieve their goals, and there is a lack of long-term planning and investment. We aim to address these shortfalls, combining commercial rigor, corporate expertise and finance with best-of-class NGO experience to create a charity for the 21st century that can work with existing actors to achieve the change we need. IBM and Practical Action are already on board, and we're in discussion with many potential partners in the UK and around the world to support us in this mission."

Sustainable energy is an increasingly prominent global concern; 2012 was announced as the "UN Year of Sustainable Energy for All," with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon giving a personal commitment towards the cause, and the UN Earth Summit Rio 20 in June 2012 will focus on alleviating energy access.

Supportive quotes:

"The lack of access to energy in the world's poorest areas continues to be a major concern. By enabling those areas to leapfrog to the newest, sustainable energy technologies, Energy Aid will help create a truly level playing field for economic development and prosperity for all," said Guido Bartels, General Manager, Global Energy and Utilities Industry, IBM. "As a member of the Energy Aid global board I encourage other corporate organizations to recognize how their business can make a difference and bring the Energy Aid vision to life."

"Start has closely followed the emergence of Energy Aid since its initial inception at the IBM Start Summit in September 2010. We are delighted to see such a force for global good emerge from HRH The Prince of Wales' vision to create momentum around sustainability, both locally, in the UK, and as we can see demonstrated by Energy Aid, globally as well," said Joey Tabone, CEO Start.

"On behalf of the founding Partners supporting Start, I would like to wish Energy Aid every success upon its launch. There is an onus and responsibility on business to increasingly work hand-in-hand with NGOs and others to make a real difference to people's lives both in the UK and around the world. Energy Aid is launched with that intention and it therefore has our support and best wishes," said Ian Cheshire, Group CEO Kingfisher and Chairman of Start.

Notes to Editors

Energy Aid is a registered charity and will be regulated by the Charity Commission in England and Wales. Energy Aid's charity registration number is 1144467.

For more Energy Aid information go to:

For more IBM information go to:

For more Practical Action information go to:

For more Start information go to:


[1] Source for statistics: International Energy Agency report: "Energy for All – Financing Access for the Poor", October 2011

[2] Energy Aid research from multiple academic and funding source interviews.

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