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. Intended to save the gains made by the energy access sector in the last decade, the Energy Access Relief Fund is mandated to support those energy access companies that are facing disruptions caused by COVID.

The Energy Access Relief Fund (EARF) has been designed to provide up to 3.5-year tenure, subordinated, unsecured, and low-cost subsidized loans to companies that had viable business models prior to COVID and 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 100-110 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 of the fund – SIMA has started providing loans to small and medium sized borrowers, supported by several key donors. However, since September 1, 2021, the official date of launch of the Energy Access Relief Fund, SIMA has been actively pursuing applications from sub-Saharan Africa and Asia Pacific. As of end of November 2021, the Energy Access Relief Fund has approved relief funding to 38 companies across 14 countries.

1st Blue Box- EARF Page-min

With over hundreds of applications received so far and still counting, 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 fastest loan that we have disbursed has been in 7 weeks since the day of start of the Due Diligence. The application process is designed to have two phases, in which the applicants are evaluated against eligibility and underwriting criteria.


Phase I

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 or equal to $500K and larger companies with annual revenues greater than $500K but less than or equal to $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, submission of 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 also 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’s technology partner, has been aiding in automating the information gathering and analysis.

Once companies submit the additional information in the Odyssey platform, their applications 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 a comprehensive response will enhance the credit evaluation process.

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

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  the next 3-5 years
Asset Quality
⦁ PAR >90 days less than 10% (Pre-COVID)
⦁ For Non-PAYG companies, average receivable days less than 120 days
⦁ Limited historical write-offs
Product Quality & Customer Protection
⦁ Satisfactory and compliant technical standards
⦁ Effective customer protection policies
Liquidity and COVID Impact
⦁ Noticeable impact of COVID related disruptions either in collections, growth, liquidity or working capital
⦁ Leverage <= 4x
⦁ 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.

EARF Helpdesk (Application Support)

EARF applicants can approach for all their queries and support required for submitting their application for EARF funding.

EARF Helpdesk (ESG only)

CLASP has setup a Helpdesk for EARF applicants and borrowers to support them in the following focus areas:-

  1. E-Waste Management.
  2. Applicable National Laws and Regulation
  3. Foundational Aspects of ESMS: Development, Implementation, and Improvement.
  4. Foundational Aspects of Stakeholder Engagement
  5. Foundational Aspects of Labor and Working Conditions
  6. Foundational Aspects of Sustainable Supply Chains
  7. GOGLA Consumer Protection Code

EARF applicants and borrowers are encouraged to contact the CLASP Helpdesk for support in the above focus areas.  Note that the Helpdesk will send interested applicants and borrowers an agreement covering the support arrangements.

To reach the helpdesk, please write to

Click here to download the EARF ESMS Policy.


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

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is Energy Access Relief Fund (EARF) and what does it offer?

The Energy Access Relief Fund is a COVID relief fund established to provide concessionary financing to energy access companies in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia pacific.


Q2. What is the expected size of EARF? How many loans will EARF provide?

The target closing of the Energy Access Relief Fund is about $90M. EARF intends to do about 100-120 loans until early 2022.


Q3. Who can apply?

Companies that have more than 50% of the annual revenues from energy access activities, located in either Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia pacific, and have annual revenues between USD75,000 and USD 50 million can apply. The companies should further meet the eligibility criteria and underwriting criteria – available here at

Q4. What is the deadline to apply for EARF?

There is no deadline to apply to EARF. However, since the applications are processed on a rolling basis, it is encouraged that the applicants apply at the earliest so that they can have a better chance of getting their applications reviewed at the earliest. Furthermore, with high volumes of applications, $90M EARF may become fully deployed any time.


Q5. Where should you apply for EARF?

The prospective applicants can visit and apply.


Q6. What will be the structure of the loans under EARF?

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


Q7. Will EARF provide grant?

The Energy Access Relief Fund provides only concessionary loans, and it does not provide any grants.


Q8: 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, the loans cannot be used to repay existing debt, cannot be used as growth capital, and cannot be used to support capital expenditure. The funds can be used to support the normal operations of the business in the form of operating expenses and working capital.


Q9. 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 in the range of 2% to 5%. The smaller companies may get a favorable interest, but the final interest rate will be determined based on many factors including the loan size, the risk, and other underwriting criteria.


Q10. What is the equity or solvency requirement to apply to EARF?

The Applicant should have at least 20% total equity as a percentage of total assets.


Q11. What will qualify as equity to meet the solvency requirement to apply to EARF?

The equity of the applicant is the value of total assets minus the value of total liabilities. However, the outstanding value of shareholder loans, convertible loans or debentures and non-repayable grant capital can be added as equity to calculate the solvency.


Q12. What is the application and selection process?

There are two main phases in the selection criteria. In Phase-I, the applicants will be screened on the basis of some eligibility criteria, which are already provided here at In Phase-II, detailed information from the applicants will be obtained on aspects such as management, financial information, and asset quality, which will be used for underwriting purposes. The SIMA team will assign a Relationship Manager (RM) to applicants in Phase-II. The RM will evaluate the application and
conduct Due Diligence. The proposal of the qualifying institutions will be presented by the RM to the Fund’s Investment Committee that will include 3 members from SIMA team and 4 other independent members. Those applications that are approved by the Investment Committee will be provided EARF loans.


Q13. How long will the EARF application process take?

Since there are hundreds of applications, these are processed on a rolling basis. However, from the date of start of the Due Diligence, the Relationship Manager can complete the process and provide status of the application to the Applicant in as less as 7-9 weeks, assuming that the applicant provides all the necessary information to the Relationship Manager.


Q14. In which currency will the loans be disbursed in?

The loans will be disbursed both in USD and local currency terms. EARF will try to disburse the loans in local currency wherever possible by hedging the transaction to mitigate forex risk to the borrowers.


Q15. Will there be any other assistance provided along with financial support?

EARF has partnered with GET.invest, PFAN and World Bank to provide technical assistance to smaller companies.


Q16. Who should you connect with if you have more queries?

You can email for your unanswered queries.

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