CCA’s Venture Catalyst Program Accelerating Industry Growth
WASHINGTON, October 19, 2021: In 2020, the Clean Cooking Alliance (CCA) launched its Venture Catalyst program to support entrepreneurs to build innovative and scalable companies that help accelerate clean cooking access. The program was designed to strengthen commercial viability, enhance investment-readiness, and speed up access to growth capital for selected companies across the clean cooking ecosystem.
Since the Venture Catalyst launch, CCA has initiated 32 customized projects with 20 companies in 12 countries. These projects are already delivering valuable results around the kinds of technological advancements, financing options, and business model innovations that are poised to transform the clean cooking sector. (Read more about these projects here.)
“By connecting companies with the financial and technical support they need to accelerate growth, CCA is taking an important step toward making clean cooking solutions accessible and affordable to all,” said Jean-Louis Racine, CCA’s Chief Program Officer. “The knowledge gained from these partnerships with Venture Catalyst companies will play a central role in guiding CCA’s efforts to crowd in investment for clean cooking.”
One of the Venture Catalyst projects supported global biodigester company Sistema.bio in understanding the feasibility of and preparation for the development of an innovative off-balance sheet financing structure for biodigesters. Using the outputs of this project, Sistema.bio has initiated investor conversations to set up a simplified payment verification and also identified gaps to make its operations more robust. The process improvements led to dramatic improvements in loan portfolio quality and repayments (Read more about CCA’s work with Sistema.bio here).
“We came up with a structure that could really de-risk the way working capital flows to support private sector clean cooking initiatives,” said Alex Eaton, CEO, Sistema.bio. “In retrospect, now that a lot of the work is done, CCA’s VC program can show massive financial leverage from its grant support. But at the time it was not so obvious, and it was incredibly impactful that CCA was willing to take a risk to make this happen.”
Another project under the Venture Catalyst program was a collaboration with ATEC*, an Australia-based clean cooking company, with primary operations in Cambodia and pilot programs in seven other countries. CCA supported ATEC* in developing a pay-as-you-go magnetic induction stove – a first-of-its-kind in the clean cooking sector. After a year of research and development, CCA and ATEC gained beneficial insight into the preferences of grid-connected cookstove users and their primary decision-making factors when purchasing clean cooking solutions. (Read more about CCA’s work with ATEC here).
Other Venture Catalyst projects include supporting companies in accessing carbon finance programs and developing new products, as well as enabling expansions into new markets. Additional information about the Venture Catalyst program can be found on the new Venture Catalysts Projects page, which will be updated as additional projects are completed.