A diverse portfolio of 33 companies, operating mainly in Africa, will be supported by the Clean Cooking Alliance’s new Venture Catalyst program. The program focuses on building an investment-ready pipeline through venture-level interventions, to deliver universal access to clean cooking in developing countries.

The Venture Catalyst (VC) portfolio currently includes biofuel, liquified petroleum gas (LPG), and biogas fuel distributors; pellet, ethanol, and char-briquette producers; and ethanol, gas, electric, and biomass stove manufacturers. The portfolio reflects a growing number of companies whose customers lack access to clean cooking solutions, including multi-product last-mile distributors, microfinance institutions, and distributed energy services companies. Many VC portfolio companies integrate industrial-scale manufacturing, digital technologies, mobile money, and consumer financing.

See the full list of portfolio companies here.

“We are proud to launch the Alliance’s new Venture Catalyst program and its initial portfolio, which will expand as new innovators enter the market,” said Peter George, the Alliance’s Senior Director of Private Sector & Investment. “As dramatic urbanization in Africa and other developing regions continues to occur, so does rapid business model and technology innovation. There is an urgent need to solve this problem for the 40 percent of families around the world who lack access to clean cooking, and for the planet as a whole. Fortunately, there is now a real possibility to catalyze a market transformation that has not been possible in the past.”

The VC program is the venture-focused component of the Alliance’s Cooking Industry Catalyst (CIC), a new, global industry development program. The CIC program combines venture-, market-, and consumer-level interventions to build scalable business models that deliver high-impact clean cooking solutions.

George added, “We see this work as critical to generating a robust pipeline of investment opportunities that will attract the tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars of private capital required to meet these energy access infrastructure needs as more and more around the world continue to emerge from poverty.” To begin to catalyze the investment into companies supported under the Venture Catalyst program, the Alliance is also developing the Spark+ Africa Fund, a $50+ million sector-specialized fund that will offer debt, equity and quasi-equity capital to companies throughout the clean cooking value chain.

Under the VC program, companies will benefit from a broad range of specialized support aimed at solidifying their commercial viability, enhancing their investment-readiness, and facilitating their access to growth capital. Possible areas of support include:

  • Financial and transaction advisory;
  • Strategy and business development;
  • Operations and human resources;
  • Tax, legal, and governance;
  • Government relations and policy advocacy; and
  • Social and environmental impact.

This support often will be delivered in partnership with a broad network of partners, such as impact investors, grant funders, fee-based consultants, and donor-funded technical assistance providers.

George emphasized the importance of the timing of this approach: “Particularly in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, it is unacceptable that the respiratory health of three billion people is so negatively impacted by the way they cook, and that the poorest remain limited by energy poverty. Financially viable companies that mobilize private capital are critical to addressing this challenge on a global scale.”

The Alliance welcomes inquiries about admission to the VC program or interest in the Spark+ Africa Fund. Please email your questions or a management presentation request to investment@cleancookingalliance.org.