COVID-19 Energy Access Relief Fund

The Energy Access Relief Fund (EARF) aims to maintain sector’s progress in bringing energy to all.

In the last decade, energy access firms have made remarkable progress in mitigating climate change and reaching people, businesses and social institutions with low carbon energy, especially those who are operating out of sub-Saharan Africa and many parts of Asia. But, that progress is now hindered and could possibly be reversed because of COVID-19 related disruptions. Even after 1.5 years after the onset of COVID, it has become evident that companies are facing problems because of intermittent lockdowns and its resultant economic fallout, and supply chains disruptions. As a result, many companies are seeing reduced sales and collections, increasing cost of goods, limited cash reserves, and tightening funding resources.

Energy Access Relief Fund

The Energy Access Relief Fund (EARF) has been designed to provide up to 3.5-year tenure, subordinated, unsecured, low-cost and subsidized loans to viable companies that are facing liquidity challenges due to COVID-19. The fund intends to focus on the smaller to mid- sized energy access companies that are addressing the needs of the bottom of the pyramid consumers and expects to make about 90-100 loans. While the fund will seek to be as inclusive as possible, its primary focus is expected to be on loans of less than $1M, within a range of $50K to $2.5M.

Since January 2021 – in advance of the first closing the fund – SIMA has started providing loans to small and medium sized borrowers, supported by several key donors.

With over hundreds of applications received so far, SIMA has innovated the underwriting process of the EARF such that the EARF loans can be provided to the borrowers in the least possible time. The application process is designed to have two phases, in which the applicants are evaluated against eligibility and underwriting criteria.

SIMA has been selected as the sole Fund Manager for the EARF.



In Phase-I, the applicants are evaluated against the initial eligibility criteria, which are listed below. All the prospective borrowers are required to meet all the primary criteria and some of the secondary criteria.

For the evaluation process in Phase-I, EARF defines smaller companies as those with annual revenues greater than $75K but less than $500K and larger companies with annual revenues greater than $500K but less than $50M.

In order to qualify, companies must meet all of the primary criteria.


a) Last pre-COVID fiscal year’s proportion of revenues from Energy Access Activities >=50%
b) Last pre-COVID fiscal year’s annual revenues should be between US$75K and US$50 Million (both inclusive)
c) Months of operations should be minimum of 24 months through end of December 2020
d) (Total Equity) / (Total Assets) as of end of March 2020 >= 20%
e) Availability of unqualified audit opinion or a credible reference from either vendors, suppliers, institutional equity or debt investors, or institutional grant providers.
f) Operating in Africa or Asia.

Among the secondary criteria, smaller companies must meet at least three criteria while larger companies must meet at least four criteria.


a) Average of FY 2018 and FY 2019 revenue growth >= 5% (for smaller) and 10% (for larger companies)
b) Management’s local market experience until Dec 2020 >= 18 months (for smaller) and 30 months (for larger companies)
c) The company should be women owned and/or managed
d) The company should service low income customers
e) (Current cash balance) / (last two months’ operating expenses) >= 100% (for smaller) and 125% (for larger companies)
f) Actual collections from customers / Scheduled collections >=65% (for the period Oct 2019 to Mar 2020)

Companies that are interested are encouraged to submit your application as soon as possible at the link below. Submissions will be reviewed on a rolling basis as they come in.


1- No Guarantee of Loan:

While the Energy Access Relief Fund has been accepting applications from the prospective borrowers, an application does not guarantee that the Fund will provide a loan. The ultimate recipients will be determined by the Investment Committee based on meeting eligibility and underwriting criteria, including the size of the business, viability of the business, performance of the business pre-COVID, impact created by the company, and finally, the availability of Fund’s capital. The lending will depend on other factors such as absence of regulatory constraints, timely completion of the final documentation, and timely satisfaction of conditions precedent to disbursement.

2- Transparency:

The Energy Access Relief Fund is publicly providing eligibility criteria and key underwriting guidelines to reach a broad range of prospective borrowers. The Fund is guided by a steering committee that has been helping to shape the Fund’s strategy to achieve the Fund’s objective of providing energy access relief during these unprecedented times. Moreover, the Fund has 7 member investment committee, which will evaluate all qualified borrowers on the basis of merit, while also meeting the Fund’s objectives.


Companies qualified in Phase I will be invited to submit more detailed company related information in the Odyssey Platform. Odyssey, the Energy Access Relief Fund technology partner, will automate the information gathering and analysis.

Once companies submit the additional information in the Odyssey platform, it will be analyzed by SIMA, and they will be assigned a relationship manager, who will start the underwriting process. Please be reminded that a prompt, accurate, well-organized and complete response will enhance the credit evaluation process.

The key underwriting criteria approved by the Energy Access Relief Fund’s steering committee include:

Area Sample Key Metrics / Indicators
Financial Performance ⦁ Sustained historical revenue growth over 5%
⦁ Higher operating margin potential over 25% and/or Opex / Revenue < 150%
⦁ EBITDA positive or projected to break-even within next 3-5 years
Asset Quality ⦁ PAR >90 days less than 10%
⦁ For Non-PAYG companies, average receivable days less than 120 days
⦁ Limited historical write-offs
Product Quality & Customer Protection ⦁ Satisfactory and compliant with technical standards
⦁ Effective customer protection policies
Liquidity and COVID Impact ⦁ Noticeable impact of COVID related disruptions either in collections, growth, liquidity or working capital
Capitalization ⦁ Leverage <= 4x
Management ⦁ Highly capable team and good corporate governance

Qualified borrowers will be presented to the Energy Access Relief Fund’s Investment Committee, which comprises of 3 SIMA members and 4 independent investment committee members, who have SME lending and energy access sector expertise, for final approval. All the loans approved by the Investment Committee will be offered a loan from the Energy Access Relief Fund subject to satisfactory Due Diligence.


Please refer to the FAQ below for further information. For unanswered questions, please write to

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Until when will EARF receive applications?

EARF is receiving applications and processing them on a rolling basis. Given the huge inflow of applications, it is advised that a prospective borrower applies as early as possible to be considered for an EARF loan.


Q2. When will the disbursements under the EARF start?

We are targeting to have the Fund’s first close early September 2021, at which time we will start disbursing some of the loans from EARF platform


Q3. What will be the structure of the loans under EARF?

The loans would be in the form of unsecured subordinated debt with a maximum tenor of 3.5 years.


Q4: What is the purpose of the loans and are there any restrictions in them?

The loans will be provided for liquidity purposes to financially viable companies; however, they cannot be used to repay existing debt. The funds are largely expected to support the normal operations of the business.


Q5. What all geographies will the financial support be provided under the Energy Access Relief Fund (EARF)?

The COVID-19 Energy Access Relief Fund (EARF) will provide concessionary debt to energy access companies only in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.


Q6. What will be the interest rate that will be charged on the loans provided under EARF?

The funding under EARF will carry a subsidized USD interest rate. The smaller companies may get a favorable interest at the lower end of the range.


Q7. How transparent is the selection process?

There are two elements in the selection criteria. First, the borrowers will be screened on the basis of the initial eligibility criteria, which is provided in this webpage. The next step involves obtaining detailed information from the prospective borrowers on management, financial information, asset quality etc., which will be used for underwriting purposes. Finally, a proposal for qualifying institutions will be presented to the Fund’s Investment Committee that will include 3 members from SIMA’s team and 4 other independent members. Selected institutions will be provided EARF loans subject to satisfactory Due Diligence.


Q8. In which currency will the loans be disbursed in?

The loans will be disbursed both in USD and local currency terms. We will try to disburse the loans in local currency wherever it will be possible to hedge the transaction.


Q9. Will there be any other assistance provided along with financial support?

We are working with GET.invest to provide technical assistance to smaller companies. Also, we are looking to secure some resources.


Q10. Who should I connect with if I have more queries?

You can email for your unanswered queries.

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