Scaling consumer protection in the off-grid solar sector

GOGLA launches initiative to strengthen and scale consumer protection in the off-grid solar sector

The aim is to grow adoption of the Consumer Protection Code by more than 60%

Strong consumer protection in the off-grid solar space is critical for achieving a clean energy transition for all

Scaling consumer protection in the off-grid solar sector

On World Consumer Rights Day, GOGLA, the global association for the off-grid solar industry, launches ‘Strengthen and Scale’, a new phase of its Consumer Protection Code work. The organisation is calling for all off-grid practitioners and investors to adopt the code and make a commitment to responsible business practices. The initiative is supported by British International Investment, DOEN Foundation and FMO, the Dutch entrepreneurial development bank.

The GOGLA Consumer Protection Code,  launched in 2018, defines minimum standards for the sector, identifies good practice and creates guidance for companies to better serve their customers. It helps to validate how responsible practices improve companies’ sustainability, accelerate market growth and safeguard impacts. These are vital for the success of the off-grid sector, which needs to grow by 12% per year until 2030 to help achieve universal electricity access (SDG7).

The new phase of the work has three key components:

Increase the number of companies adopting the code from 90 to 150.Help companies go beyond self-assessment against the Code’s core principles, and encourage them to seek an objective evaluation of their operational performance and gain detailed insights into consumers’ experiences that can lead to positive action, and inform roadmaps for improvement.Develop more guidance for companies, with a focus on credit risk management, responsible default management processes, and gender-specific consumer risks.

Image: Oolu Solar

Better protection for consumers will help the industry scale sustainably

Customers’ trust and satisfaction are at the heart of any successful industry. This is particularly important for off-grid solar customers for whom purchasing a solar energy kit often represents a significant investment. Consumer protection and responsible business practices are crucial for building, and maintaining, confidence in off-grid solar technologies, leading to more demand and sales. Strengthening the industry through consumer trust and satisfaction is also key for it to scale: as a company’s sales revenue grows, so does its attractiveness to investors and development actors.

“Companies cannot succeed if their customers aren’t well-informed, satisfied with the product and service, and can afford the payments. What’s more, we now have the data to show that companies that serve their customers well are the ones that are flourishing.”
– Drew Corbyn, Head of Performance and Investment at GOGLA

“For the off-grid solar sector to thrive it is essential to think and act from the end-user perspective. A stronger customer will increase the impact that distributors, manufacturers and investors can achieve. Beside that, we are strong proponents of the open source character and support given by GOGLA to members to implement the principles. Also on other aspects like end-of-life and gender aspects”
– Maarten Derksen, Programme Manager at DOEN Foundation

“Off-grid energy companies offer a strong value proposition to customers, delivering significant and measurable social, economic and environmental impacts. However, as the industry expands, we must ensure growth objectives remain fully aligned with consumer interests and the environmental impact the off-grid sector has. By supporting GOGLA’s work on consumer protection, FMO contributes to more responsible practices in the off-grid energy sector, which is fully in line with the objectives of FMO and the Dutch government funds MASSIF and the Access to Energy Fund to be a responsible investor,”
– Gerbrich Salverda, Capacity Development Officer at FMO

Stronger consumer protection is one of the key components of GOGLA’s commitment to power 1 billion lives by 2030, as outlined in our UN Energy Compact.

Companies interested in learning about the Consumer Protection Code and making a Commitment  to its six core principles can find more details on the GOGLA Consumer Protection Hub.

About GOGLA

GOGLA is the global association for the off-grid solar energy industry.

Our 200+ members provide millions of low-income and climate-vulnerable people with affordable, high-quality products and services; rapidly increasing customers’ productivity, connectivity, and resilience.

To enable sustainable businesses and accelerate energy access, we provide market insights, standards and best practice, and advocate for catalytic policies, programmes and investment. With the right support, our pioneering industry can improve the lives of 1 billion people by 2030.

To find out more, visit www.gogla.org.

About British International Investment

We are the UK’s development finance institution and impact investor with a mission to help solve the biggest global development challenges by investing patient, flexible capital to support private sector growth and innovation.

To find out more, visit Development Finance Institution – British International Investment (bii.co.uk).

About DOEN FOUNDATION

DOEN is a driving force behind green, socially inclusive and creative pioneers. DOEN supports initiatives by people and organisations that contribute to a better world in an entrepreneurial, creative and innovative way. Besides supporting these pioneers, DOEN also brings them into contact with each other and to the attention of a large audience. DOEN receives all its funds from the Dutch Postcode Lottery and the FriendsLottery.

To find out more, visit www.doen.nl

About FMO

FMO is the Dutch entrepreneurial development bank. As a leading impact investor, FMO supports sustainable private sector growth in developing countries and emerging markets by investing in ambitious projects and entrepreneurs. FMO believes that a strong private sector leads to economic and social development and has?a 50+ year?proven track-record?in?empowering entrepreneurs to make local economies more inclusive, productive, resilient and sustainable.

FMO focuses on three sectors that have high development impact: Agribusiness, Food & Water, Energy, and Financial Institutions. With a total committed portfolio of EUR ~12 billion spanning over 85 countries, FMO is one of the larger bilateral private sector development banks globally. For more information: please visit?www.fmo.nl.

To find out more, visit www.fmo.nl.

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