Spotlight Session

Women Bridging the Clean Energy Financing Gap

Organized by: USAID's South Asia Regional Energy Partnership (SAREP) and USAID's South Asia Women in Energy (SAWIE)


The global energy sector faces a dual challenge: an urgent clean energy transition and a persistent gender gap. Despite comprising nearly 40% of the workforce, women hold only 16% of jobs in the energy sector, with even starker underrepresentation in leadership and entrepreneurship, reports the International Energy Agency (IEA). In South Asia, women's participation in the energy workforce is even lower, ranging from 3-15% (UN data). This lack of diversity hinders innovation, particularly when it comes to financing solutions.

Women-led clean energy ventures often face a significant barrier - access to finance. Traditional financial institutions may perceive them as higher risk, limiting their access to capital needed to launch or scale their businesses. This hinders the clean energy transition by stifling innovation and entrepreneurial spirit.

Women leaders in the clean energy sector hold immense power to bridge the financing gap. Their advocacy for gender-inclusive financing policies can level the playing field. By spearheading mentorship programs, they can connect women entrepreneurs with seasoned leaders, fostering knowledge sharing and financial guidance. Furthermore, their success stories as role models can inspire a new generation of women to pursue clean energy ventures.

Regional Roundtable Discussion:

Aimed at building a supportive ecosystem, this proposed regional roundtable discussion directly aligns with the closing plenary's theme of "Providing a Just and Inclusive Clean Energy Transition for All." By bringing together women at the helm of the energy transition from a variety of stakeholders across the region (Southeast Asia, South Asia, etc) the discussion aims to highlight the importance of understanding and documenting the successes women have enjoyed across the spectrum of the themes at ACEF 2024 (Renewable Energy Capacity; Energy Efficiency; Electricity Distribution and Transmission; Clean Energy Solutions), as well as the barriers they have faced. In other words, the discussion seeks to amplify the voices of women leading the clean energy revolution across all sectors through sharing success stories, challenges, and best practices in tackling the financing gap. This can help achieve a trifecta of positive change: empowering women leaders by providing a platform for shared experiences and financing strategies, driving industry-wide change through advocacy for gender-inclusive clean energy financing policies, and building a supportive ecosystem by fostering connections between women entrepreneurs, investors, and mentors.

More specifically the roundtable discussion intends to seek responses to below questions:

  1. What specific obstacles do women face when seeking financing for clean energy ventures compared to their male counterparts?
  2. How do traditional financial institutions perceive women-led businesses in the clean energy sector (higher risk, less experience, etc.)?
  3. Beyond access to capital, what other financial resources or support structures are lacking for women entrepreneurs?
  4. What are some innovative financing models that can better serve women-led clean energy businesses? (e.g., impact investing, angel investor networks focused on women)
  5. How can mentorship programs and knowledge-sharing initiatives empower women with the financial skills and experience needed to secure funding?
  6. What policy changes or advocacy efforts can create a more level playing field for women in clean energy finance?
  7. How can these success stories be leveraged to inspire and encourage future generations of women to enter the clean energy sector?
  8. How can we build a stronger network of women entrepreneurs, investors, and mentors within the Asian clean energy sector?
  9. What unique challenges and opportunities do rural women entrepreneurs face in clean energy financing compared to their urban counterparts? (e.g., lack of access to financial institutions, infrastructure limitations, land ownership issues)

AGENDA


4:00 - 4:03 p.m.

Welcome Address

Monali Zeya Hazra, Regional Energy & Clean Energy Specialist and Mission Environment Officer, Indo Pacific Office, USAID/India


4:03 - 4:10 p.m.

Keynote Address

Leena Srivastava, Former Deputy Director General (DDG) Science, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)


4:10 - 4:20 p.m.

Context Setting

Ripu Bhanjan Singh, Strategy Consultant, US India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF)

Farah Ahmed, Cross-cutting Lead, USAID South Asia Regional Energy Partnership (SAREP)


4:20 - 5:10 p.m.

Panel Discussion: Women Bridging the Clean Energy Financing Gap

Moderator: Nidhi Prabha, GESI Advisor, USAID’ SAREP

Panelists:

Annika Seiler, Principal Energy Specialist, Asian Development Bank (ADB)

Sunita Dubey, Country Representative, Vietnam, The Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP)

Laurie Navarro, Former Country Representative-Philippines, Private Financing Advisory Network (PFAN)

Ragini Bajaj Chaudhary, Investment Director, Caspian Debt

Bishal Thapa, Senior Director-India, CLASP (Nepal & South Asia Perspective)

Kavita Gandhi, Executive Director, Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore (SEAS)


5:10 - 5:20 p.m.

Moderated Q&A

Moderator: Nidhi Prabha, Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) Advisor, USAID South Asia Regional Energy Partnership (SAREP)


5:20 - 5:28 p.m.

Key Takeaways & Vote of Thanks

Farah Ahmed, Cross-cutting Lead, USAID South Asia Regional Energy Partnership (SAREP)


5:28 - 5:30 p.m.

Vote of Thanks

Monali Zeya Hazra, Regional Energy & Clean Energy Specialist and Mission Environment Officer, Indo Pacific Office, USAID/India