Prints of the brief are available at the "Fair ideas" IIED side-event in Rio

The goal of the survey is to provide a better understanding of current barriers and challenges to private sector involvement - particularly in stimulating energy access for the poorest - and to determine the potential for the UN SE4ALL initiative to help in overcoming these challenges.

A selection of the integral version of the interviews conducted during this study is available on the HEDON Household Energy Network website:


The UN’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative (SE4ALL) has a strong focus on the private sector to deliver universal energy access, improved efficiency and increased investment in renewable energy. Leading private sector associations have bought into SE4ALL, including the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the Global Compact.

However, critics argue that SE4ALL is focusing too much on large-scale infrastructure investment and is missing opportunities to stimulate enterprise more locally and to benefit the poorest. The private sector – including large and smaller-scale businesses, both local and international – is keen to get involved in energy access in low-income markets and sees the value of an initiative such as SE4ALL. Yet some feel that SE4ALL is failing to engage all levels of the private sector effectively.

To deliver universal energy access, SE4ALL needs to address the lack of finance for enterprises and end users, especially in untested markets; infrastructure and support services for new businesses; local skills, capacity and information about workable models; and favourable policy frameworks. With the right incentives, business can open up low-income markets by providing life improving services to emerging middle class populations who are still excluded from energy access. To reach the poorest, SE4ALL can promote private sector partnerships with government and NGOs, encourage corporate
responsibility initiatives and support social entrepreneurs.