Q. Tell us a little about your professional background, how did you end up working at Micro Energy Credits (MEC)?
I received my degree in Environmental Studies and began my career working at a climate change policy NGO. After gaining experience at the policy level, I wanted field experience and joined the US Peace Corps in Zambia. While working in rural village for 2 years, I became interested in microfinance and this interest led me to MicroEnergy Credits.
I was particularly attracted to MEC’s strong social mission to bring clean energy technologies to low income households. I began my work with MEC in Uganda until transferring to Mumbai, India in January 2014 to work out of our global headquarters.
Q. Tell us a little about MEC’s work in India. How long have you been here and who are your MFI partners in India?
MicroEnergy Credits has been working in India since 2008. MEC partners with a variety of financial institutions inclucing MFIs, RRBs, and commerical banks. Currently, we are partnered with Gramin Bank of Aryavart, Prathama Bank, Baroda Uttar Pradesh Gramin Bank, Bank of India, Canara Bank, Grameen Koota, ESAF, SKDRDP, Gurgaon Gramin Bank, Allahabad UP Gramin Bank, Purvanchal Gramin Bank, Haryana Grameen Bank, and Andhra Pragathi Gramin Bank.
Q. What benefits can MFI’s get from partnering with you and who can they contact?
MEC can help MFIs offer financing for life-enhancing clean energy products such as improved cookstoves, solar lighting products, and water purifiers, and receive carbon funding while they do so. MEC does not charge financial institutions a fee for its services, rather MFIs participate in carbon revenues which are used to further scale up the program.
MEC offers a full service package to create a clean energy product line tailored to the needs of a financial institution’s clients. This includes a full-time Program Manager at HQ, product demonstrators based at branches, energy camps for client education and awareness, product delivery, management of clean energy product vendors, Credit Tracker supply chain logistics technology, and access to carbon funding.
The goal is to create client affinity as bank customers appreciate the savings and quality of life improvements that come with using clean energy. Interested MFIs can contact MEC at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. Many Indian Companies which produce CER’s are staring at a huge loss as prices have dropped from a high of 11 Euro in 2011 to less than 1 Euro in 2014. In the face of such a drastic drop in the prices of CER’s, how is MEC able to make a profit? Is it because the cost of producing CER’s is much lower in MEC’s projects?
MEC works in both the voluntary (VER) market and the compliance (CER) market. By levarging both types of credits, MEC is able to maximize the revenue from our carbon portfolio. While the CER market crashed in 2013, MEC recently signed a fixed price purchase agreement for CERs generated in India for the next 6 years, thus ensuring offtake for our credits at a good price.
Q. What is MEC’s outlook on the price of CER’s in the medium term (2-3 years)?
The compliance market on the whole is not expected to recover in the next 2-3 years.
Q. Discussions on the Kyoto Protocol phase II is expected to be held towards the end of this year. What does future hold for CER’s ?
The outcome of the COP in Paris in 2015 will be critical for a global plan to stop climate change. The results may revive the CER market over the next 3 to 4 years. The European Carbon Market has been the most successful market mechanism to stop climate change.
Q. You have been in India for more than 2 years. As a single white woman working in India, what are the challenges you have faced? Tell us about your positive and negative experiences working in India?
I have had a great time working in India. While I do take care to be cautious about safety when traveling alone, I have found people to be extremely hospitable and friendly across the country. People often invite me for a meal at their home and go out of the way to ensure I am comfortable.
Q Any advice for expats bitten by the social entrepreneurship bug and planning to re-locate to India?
Go for it! India is a great place to live and work and the potential to make an impact is huge. Across the country, I have found an amazing community of both local people and expats who are passionate and driven to help raise the standard of living for the less fortunate. I encourage more to come join us.