HEDERA & RESEARCH: Translating research results into practical solutions for sustainable development

We strive to bridge the gap between academia and the private sector by facilitating transdisciplinary collaboration between the two and inter-linking all inclusive finance stakeholders.
In this page, you can explore our research-related work, including our topics of interest, research papers, supervised theses, research partners, and current research needs. We invite researchers to connect and join us in this journey.

Since its inception, HEDERA has had a strong relationship with the academic sector. The concept for HEDERA, particularly the HEDERA Impact Toolkit (HIT), came out of HEDERA Co-Founder and CEO Natalia Realpe Carrillo’s PhD on energy access measurement.
In her PhD, Natalia developed the Progress out of Energy Poverty Index (PEPI) toolkit. The PEPI builds upon the World Bank’s Multi-Tier Framework (MTF) for Energy Access Assessment, based on a multidimensional approach to evaluating the usage of energy services. Tailoring the framework and the survey to be used in the microfinance industry, the PEPI has been designed to track the progress towards Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 at the household level.
HIT integrates PEPI with its methodology of locally-driven crowdsourcing of field data and software solutions for data analysis & reporting for the assessment of SDG7.


Energy Access Analysis in The Democratic Republic of the Congo
The objective of this project is to analyze access to energy (electricity and cooking solution) in rural areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The study has been implemented by APIDE, a local NGO working in the regions of Kitutu, Kaituga, and Mwenga, in the eastern part of the country, about 150 km from the border with Burundi and Rwanda.

See our digital report.
Needs Assessment: Rejuvenating Pueblo Viejo
Pueblo Viejo, Magdalena, Colombia

Rejuvenating Pueblo Viejo is an initiative of the Universidad del Magdalena Chair of Sustainability 2019-II that aims to develop students’ basic competencies in sustainability and innovation by having them work on social, economic, and environmental problems related to sustainable development.

The project works with children, youth, and adolescents from municipal schools in Pueblo Viejo (in the department of Magdalena), with the aim to integrate their ideas, initiatives, and contributions into the municipal urban and territorial planning of Pueblo Viejo. The project will use HEDERA Impact Toolkit to assess the population's needs and monitor progress over time.
Contact: sostenibilidad@unimagdalena.edu.co
IMPACT-R: Impact-Driven & Action-Based Research
Funding: Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS)
The purpose of IMPACT-R is to establish strong links between researchers and practitioners, especially in developing countries, to investigate innovative needs and impact assessment methodologies. These tools will enable local and global stakeholders (research institutions, local communities, development organizations, and international investors) to: (i) understand the needs of vulnerable populations; (ii) analyze the market with respect to different products and services; and (iii) establish procedures for organizations to track their achievements according to the latest standards. The project is funded by the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS), in the framework of the Klaus Töpfer Sustainability Fellowship of Natalia.

Climate protection: Raising young people's environmental awareness
Partners: Appui-conseils aux Projets et Initiatives du Développement Endogène (Bukavu, DRC) & Institute for Energy Engineering, TU Berlin
Funding: ASA Engagement Global
This project aims to involve young people in the sustainable conservation of ecosystems in order to strengthen civil society's understanding of climate protection and to promote global awareness of the issue of sustainability.
The Institute for Energy Engineering has been mentoring the HEDERA team since 2018 Together they design digital data collection and data processing options for organizations in order to support them in the effective and transparent use and overview of financial budget-related data. This project includes various digital tools for the visualization of data, mobile data acquisition through apps and networking on platforms. Appui-conseils aux Projets et Initiatives du Développement Endogène (APIDE), based in Bukavu was founded in 1991 to advise agricultural non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the eastern Congolese region of South Kivu. The institution has been campaigning for food security in several regions since 1994. The overarching goal of the NGO is sustainable economic growth, for which it has now established a network of 32 organizations.
Support local communities to develop solutions to improve access to electricity
Partners: University of Magdalena (Santa Marta, Colombia), TU Berlin
Funding: ASA Engagement Global
This project aims to improve the quality of life in a community by creating reliable and affordable access to electricity through needs-based and sustainable solutions. The University of Magdalena, founded in 1958, is based in Santa Marta, the capital of the Magdalena province in northern Colombia. The institution has the mission of being an inclusive and innovative university, actively contributing to sustainable local and global development. The aim of the project is to implement, with the support of the HEDERA Impact Toolkit, a diagnosis of access to electricity and to find solutions organized in solidarity with the local population that enable a sustainable way out of energy poverty.


A Decentralized Approach for Assessing Energy Access at the Household Level to Monitor and Maximize the Impact of Inclusive Finance Towards SDG7
Assessing the progress towards SDG7 requires a detailed analysis of energy needs and energy access at the individual household level. This paper examines the effectiveness of the application of the Multi-Tier Framework (introduced by The World Bank), in combination with mobile data collection tools optimized for the microfinance industry, for such assessment. Decentralized data collection is commonly used for internal evaluation purposes. It is possible to integrate these procedures into the acquisition of information related to clients’ energy needs, as well as report the impact on SDG7 based on the collected data, using the latest standard indicators. This innovative approach is discussed in terms of cost reduction, feasibility, and quality of information, as well as its potential for large scale implementation, based on preliminary test implementation in Latin America and Africa.

Keywords: Energy access; Multi-Tier Framework; data collection; impact assessment.

Our paper was presented during the 2019 Research Meets Africa conference, organized by ADA in the framework of the African Microfinance Week (SAM: Semain aricaine de la microfinance) in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. You can download the paper here.


Paddy Bakengana, Challenges and way forward for using the Multi-Tier Framework for bottom-up Tracking of progress towards SDG7.
A case of selected private clean energy companies in Uganda

Master Thesis at the Pan African University Institute for Water and Energy Sciences (including Climate Change), Msc. Energy Policy, Tlemcen, Algeria

Data collection was facilitated by HEDERA with an in-built questionnaire.

Keywords: Multi-Tier Framework, HEDERA, Clean energy technology providers
Hillary K. Korir, Energy Access and Impact Analysis of Biogas Harnessing on Mau Forest Conservation

Master Thesis at the Pan African University Institute for Water and Energy Sciences (including Climate Change), Msc. Energy Policy, Tlemcen, Algeria

Forests as a source of energy are important in many countries, especially in rural areas in sub-Saharan African countries, where the availability of wood fuel is literally a necessity for survival. These countries rely heavily on wood as a source of energy, especially for heating and cooking, and most of them are struggling to maintain their forests in the face of growing populations and weak economies.
The Mau Forest Complex sits within Kenya’s Rift Valley and is the largest indigenous montane forest in East Africa, but human activity, including agriculture, logging, and settlement construction, has reduced the Mau Forest to a quarter of what it once was, disrupting the forest’s role in storing and distributing water to outlying areas.
This study aims at evaluating energy access and the impact of biogas harnessing for home cooking on Mau forest conservation and communities living next to the forest and proposing appropriate recommendations.
The area of study was in southwestern Mau, where data collection was done in the regions of Chebangang, Nyangores, Londiani, and Olenguruone.

Data collection was facilitated by use of the HEDERA collect mobile app with an in-built questionnaire. The results obtained were generalized to represent the whole Mau Complex. Electricity sources and cooking fuels were evaluated using the Multi-Tier Framework methodology.
Ninety percent of the electricity sources used by the population were categorized in Tier 1, while 37.6% of cooking fuels used by the population were categorized in Tier 1 and Tier 2.
Knowledge of biogas technology was found to be very low, with only 24% of the population knowledgeable about it. With a Pearson coefficient of 0.85, the relationship between the level of education and choice of cookstove was concluded to be independent. Analyzing energy demand in the region based on the Business-As-Usual scenario (BAU), cooking energy demand will triple by the year 2040, and firewood will remain the primary cooking fuel, thus putting pressure on forest resources.
It was concluded that adoption of biogas technology in the region will promote livestock intensification and reduce household firewood use by half. It was recommended that priority be given to awareness campaigns on modern cookstoves and biogas technology in the region. County governments, national government ministries in charge of rural electrification, and non-governmental organizations in the region should be the major stakeholders in creating awareness.

Keywords: Multi-Tier Framework, HEDERA, biogas technology, energy demand, LEAP
Sarpong Hammond Antwi

Master Thesis at the Pan African University Institute for Water and Energy Sciences (including Climate Change), Msc. Energy Policy, Tlemcen, Algeria

Niger possesses a vast amount of renewable energy potential but still faces numerous challenges in its energy sector, with the horrid effects of climate change also escalating the socio-economic predicaments of the country. Studies have revealed community acceptability as one approach to resolving such energy crises; however, acceptability is narrowly being discussed, especially within the context of African communities.
The study aims to, therefore, understand the factors that influence the acceptability of renewable energy and its implications on climate change actions in the Sekoukou community in Niger, where there is a dearth of electricity and clean cooking solutions.
The various methods and techniques deployed for this study included observations, focus group discussions, a gender sensitivity analysis, and 50 household interviews aided by the HEDERA collect mobile app .

An assumption from a cross-tabulation test indicates that there is no significant statistical difference between occupation, household head, and energy preferences. The gender sensitivity analysis also reveals the strong desire of men and women to participate in climate change adaptation and mitigation programmes in the community.
These results imply that a renewable energy financial model that targets the poorest of the poor and education to break the sociopsychological ties to firewood are needed to influence acceptance of renewable energy in Sekoukou.
Gender integration in the energy planning process and alternative livelihood activities to improve the purchasing power of the community are two of the recommendations made in this study. Additionally, further adjustment in Niger’s policy framework towards universal energy by 2030 is required to attract investors to the sector.
For further studies, a focus on communities and households across different localities and countries in Africa will be beneficial to help bolster the findings and conclusions of this present study.  

Keywords: Renewable energy, climate change, community acceptability, gender mainstreaming, Niger
Maximilien Pary, Impact of COVID-19 crisis on Green Microfinance

Master Thesis for the European Microfinance Programme, Université Libre de Bruxelles

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The worldwide economy was strongly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, having repercussions on all stakeholders involved in microfinance. This dramatic economic situation has had two main consequences for microfinance institutions: first, in the short term, they were compelled to swiftly review and prioritize their on-going initiatives with the objective to trim their business portfolios. Second, they have incorporated sustainable recovery plans into their mid- and long-term strategies.
For short-term actions, MFIs had to cope with a crisis that forced them to focus on emergency financial and social actions such as rescheduling loans from their clients' portfolios and creditors, while simultaneously finding liquidity solutions to ensure the provision of emergency loans and manage potential massive deposit withdrawal.
During the first few months of the crisis, many discussions, analyses, articles, and other studies or surveys examined COVID-19's impact on financial and social strategies and, more globally, the microfinance market. One conclusion stands out from their review: the environmental crisis that the world is undergoing has barely been taken into account in these papers and analyses. In such a stressful situation, reactions and priorities have a natural tendency to favor what is well known, and therefore to focus on the features of our “old” economy. Green Microfinance is still a new field where knowledge and expertise are in the process of being developed and, therefore, is not perceived as robust enough or as too risky, and it seems it is only considered in the second phase of a microfinance institution's development.
Therefore, the objective of this thesis, conducted between mid-June and the end of July 2020, was to assess the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on green microfinance strategies and associated actions. The research entailed analyzing materials such as articles, public data from MIX Market and ATLAS Green Index data, and data from two surveys on the impact of COVID-19 on the sector. This study, based on a literature review, observations, and deductions, will address the global impact of the crisis on microfinance and the different available tools to assess green microfinance strategies.


Rural Energy Supply
Pan African University – Institute of Water and Energy Sciences (PAUWES)
Teacher: Dr.-Ing. Natalia Realpe Carrillo
Target audience: Master students in the Energy Policy track.
This course aims to provide students knowledge of renewable energy (RE) technologies used for off-grid applications and will cover stand-alone solutions, as well as hybrid-systems consisting of different RE technologies or in combination with diesel generators or storage systems. Students will learn about the technologies, hybrid systems, and micro-grids. After focusing on the technologies, system design, and case studies, non-technical aspects like market development, regional trends, and economics will be examined. More specifically, the course topics include: RE technologies for off-grid applications: off-grid photovoltaics, small-scale wind energy, and small-scale biogas; fields of application; mini-grid design: AC coupled mini-grids, project planning, and system sizing; case studies; economics and financing; software overview; introduction to HOMER software and exercises in system design & electricity costs.
The teaching approach combines theory with exercises and discussions relevant for an energy policy career.
Information Technology for Energy Access in the Microfinance Sphere
TU Berlin – Campus El Gouna
Teacher: Dr.-Ing. Natalia Realpe Carrillo & M. Sc. Alberto Diaz Durana
In the era of digitization, data analysis has become a fundamental asset in any entrepreneurial project. Comprehending the value of data’s hidden potential requires an understanding of the processes needed to make data useful. In order to work with data, certain technical infrastructure is needed, in which different IT technologies play different fundamental roles. Multiple agents are actively involved in the process of collecting the data and converting it into insightful information. Knowledge and understanding of the different stages and technologies in data processing are crucial to the creation of innovative business ideas. In the context of the economic factors that determine the market dynamics within the microfinance sphere, the value of data, IT infrastructure, and IT products will be presented through real case studies.


Fostering Energy Access Research in Africa – EU & Africa Researchers
TU Berlin, November 2019
HEDERA facilitated the organization of an international workshop entitled “Fostering Energy Access Research in Africa – EU & Africa Researchers”, sponsored by TU Berlin’s Seed Funding for the Global South program, in November 2019.
The purpose of the workshop was to develop a common vision of collaborative research focused on assessing and securing access to renewable energy in Sub-Saharan Africa in innovative and sustainable ways, bringing together several European and African institutions: TU Berlin Institute for Energy Engineering - Prof. Tetyana Morozyuk, RWI Essen (Germany) - Dr. Gunther Bensch, University of Geneva - Geneva Finance Research Institute (Switzerland) - Prof. Bernd Balkenhol, African Center of Excellence - Energy for Sustainable Development (Rwanda) - Prof. Etienne Ntagwirumugara, Pan African University - Institute of Water and Energy Sciences (including Climate Change) (Algeria) - Prof. Chewki Ziani Cherif, Jomo Kenyatta University (Kenya) - Prof. John Gitonga Githiri, and Sustainable Development Goals Center for Africa (Rwanda) - Dr. Tekalign Tsige Sahilu.


We offer students the opportunity to pursue Bachelor and Master theses in the area of sustainable development and impact assessment. Possible topics include:

  • Evaluating energy efficiency as an MTF parameter
  • Audio recognition for data analysis
  • Use of AI and IT Tools for automatic analysis of markets and stakeholders
  • Nexus between energy, water, and food securiry

Interested? Please send your application via email to team@hedera.online or send us a message