EmPower Women for Climate Resilient Societies is a project jointly initiated by UN Women and UN Environment, with the support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.
The project focuses on three countries in Asia: Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Cambodia.
Since 2019, Nexus for Development has been working with the EmPower Project in Cambodia alongside UN Environment Programme (UNEP – the financer) and the Cambodian National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development Secretariat (NCDDs – co-implementer) to enable women to use renewable energy as economic resources for resilient livelihoods.
- 2 provinces
- 5 livelihood options
- 100 women
A step-by-step approach to identify a sustainable model suitable to all stakeholders.
- Livelihood options and project sites selection
- Technical and financial analysis of selected livelihood options
- Financial literacy training
- Financing mechanism concept study
Was it challenging to select the livelihood options and beneficiaries?
Yes, it was a challenging process but with the three-level of studies (scoping , prefeasibility and feasibility study), the team can narrow down the broad aspect of livelihood options and beneficiaries. Also our focus was to identify a financially viable model that would benefit all parties and the environment, and have the potential to be replicated and scaled. Hence it was imperative to find the right balance between the potential of a livelihood option and the implementation reality on the ground, considering the beneficiaries’ situation and the financing environment in Cambodia.
What is Nexus value-add in the context of the EmPower project?
Our diverse areas of expertise in energy, water and financing suit the project perfectly. Being based in Cambodia is also, obviously, a plus. Yet I would say that our capacity to understand the FI requirements were instrumental in our work with all parties. We have been able to develop a strict methodology suitable for small size projects without compromising on the financial analysis principles. We knew it was essential to play by FIs’ rule if we wanted to mobilize them.
What is crucial in a project like EmPower?
It is key to engage with stakeholders (in the Cambodia case, we can mention NCDDs, UNEP, FIs, S-RET, AIMS, ASPIRE, SHE investment) to leverage the existing activities, and build a strong ecosystem of experts. Thanks to this approach and within this ecosystem, the different players combine their effort to address market barriers and identify the right opportunities to create suitable solutions.
For e.g. Having a training component was essential as we know that financial literacy is essential for FI. We were glad to work with SHE investments on that matter as we were well aligned on the level of standard we wanted to achieve through this program. Their team has a strong experience in developing successful curriculum and working with women in Cambodia on both financial and business literacy for many years.
A methodology based on stakeholder engagement
To complete the EmPower project successfully, Nexus for Development engaged with private entrepreneurs, such as women-driven SMEs and technical providers, through interviews and site visits, aggregating relevant information for KYC and due diligence procedures.
The project also provided technical assistance through financial literacy trainings designed and coordinated by SHE Investment.
Finally, the financing mechanism designed within EmPower was the focus of an online workshop hosted by Nexus for Development. The goal was to gather Cambodian financial institutions (“FIs”), technical providers, and other industry partners to discuss how to remove barriers to climate-resilient societies where women play an important role. Participants were introduced to the proposed financing mechanism designed to promote easier access to finance for renewable energy and women-driven businesses.