USADF Off-Grid Energy Challenge 

USADF Off-Grid Energy Challenge 

USADF is excited to request proposals for the USADF Off-Grid Energy Challenge. Proposals are invited from eligible African off-grid energy companies. Selected enterprises will receive funding in the form of grant capital of up to $250,000. To be considered for the Challenge, applicants must be 100% African-owned and -managed private companies registered and operating in Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.

All instructions to apply are included in “Request for Proposals” linked below. The application template for applicants to complete is also linked below. Applicants must submit the completed application template, as well as all required attachments, on or before September 30, 2022. Please note that applications will be reviewed on a first come, first served basis, so it is advised that applicants submit their proposals as soon as possible.


USADF will consider proposals from 100% African-owned and managed companies. Passports or other government-issued IDs of all owners and senior managers must be submitted with the applications.

If the applying entity is owned wholly or in part by another entity, passports or other government-issues IDs of its owners must also be provided.

The applying entity must be a for-profit enterprise and must not be governmentowned, operated, or affiliated in any way.

Applicants may be developers of their own technology and/or may be acquiring and implementing technology developed elsewhere.

Applicants need to be legally registered in Africa and demonstrate the capacity to track and manage the project resources and operate in good standing with the local governments in which they operate.

Winning proposals must:

• Further develop, scale up or extend use of proven technologies for off–grid energy in Africa
• Benefit marginalized, low-income rural, urban, or peri-urban populations currently underserved by utility companies, ideally with a focus on benefits to women and girls
• Demonstrate financial sustainability or the potential for financial sustainability. The proposed investment period must include at least three months of revenue from sales of energy/electricity generated
• Demonstrate a proven track record of experience or have project sponsors or partners with a proven track record of related experience
• Propose a budget of no more than US$250,000. Proposals with budgets greater than US$250,000 must
bring leveraged resources from one or more other sources that meet the total financing requirements.
Leveraged funds from other private sector and donor sources are encouraged
• Demonstrate clearly whether and how many new connections will be added, as well as potential for
future replication. A “new connection” is defined as new mini-grid connection or home system installed
• Proposals leveraging wind, hydro, biomass, and gas as the energy source are greatly encouraged
• Productive use applications in the agriculture and agri-business, commercial, and industrial sectors are
highly encouraged
• Women-owned or -managed business is a plus

Applications will only be considered if they:

• Are 100% African-owned and passports or other government-issued IDs showing citizenship are submitted

All shareholders, members of the board and senior management must be citizens of a subSaharan African country

• Express clearly how they will benefit marginalized, grassroots people in Africa, including showing demonstrable positive impacts for female beneficiaries
• Express clearly how they will achieve profitability and sustainable growth
• Are fully and legally registered in Africa and the registration is submitted
• Document adequate expertise in the field they are proposing or document how they will acquire the necessary expertise
• Clearly document how they will we use USADF grant capital to carry out their concept

Winning proposals will have the following characteristics:

• Provide off-grid energy to rural or urban areas and populations currently lacking energy access.

Distance of the site from the grid is to be stated in the application, including an explanation on why grid connection is not feasible is necessary, and an estimate of the cost to connect the site to the grid. The best estimate of how long it will take for the area to connect to the grid should be stated. If the proposal is for an urban area or area with grid connections, justification for selecting such site should be included

• Focus on reaching unserved, underserved or marginalized populations
• Clearly identify any female ownership/management
• Explain all tangible improvements to the lives of women and girls, including whether and how the entity targets women for capacity building/employment
• Clearly identify specific innovations of the technology or business model and the energy source
• Clearly state whether and how many new connections will be added. A “new connection” is defined as a new mini-grid connection or home system installed
• Project includes power for economic (income generating) activities. For example, in small-scale valueadded agriculture processing, the actual or potential business impact of the project should be addressed in the proposal
• Demonstrate the potential for financial sustainability and profitability. Attach a comprehensive fiveyear financial model projecting expected financial return on investment and anticipated payback period in an Excel format. The application must demonstrate the potential to operate as a commercially viable business
• Demand Driven; the proposal should address a clearly established and unmet demand
• Preference given to proposals that leverages finance from other sources in addition to Challenge funds
• Entity is African owned and managed, registered, and operating within Africa

Project categories that will be considered:

• Productive use:
o Off-grid energy solutions for mechanization of processes such as grain milling, oil expelling, refrigeration, transport, etc. Solutions are to explain clearly how they will be commercially viable.

It is expected that use of the power will address (a) business solution(s) that will
generate ongoing revenue and profits to sustain the enterprise. This must be clearly explained in the proposal.

• Energy nexus:
o Off-grid energy solutions for cross-sector areas like agriculture, healthcare, education, ICT, construction, manufacturing, etc.
• Mini- and micro-grids:
o Small-scale power generation systems which provide an alternative to, or an enhancement of,
national/regional grid connected electric transmission.
• Stand-alone and Home systems:
o Off-grid energy systems installed directly in the homes and/or businesses of unserved or
underserved consumers, which supply energy directly to communities currently (and in the
foreseeable future) lacking access to energy.
o Focus must be on distribution systems which are scalable, replicable, and affordable.
• Innovations:
o Proposals need not necessarily be for power generation only, they may also include provision
of innovative metering, payment systems or other enabling technology. If it is an innovation,
then a simple and clear explanation must be provided to convey why the innovation is
important and what it will do for the sector or the population.