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Social Innovation to tackle fuel poverty in Europe

Author: Laura Zimer, European Program Coordinator - Ashoka
Published Date: 10 September 2015

In Europe, 50 to 125 million persons are living in fuel poverty according to a 2014 study from BPIE (Buildings Performance Institute Europe). We define fuel poverty as the inability to heat correctly a house for a reasonable price, given the income. Those people find themselves in the incapacity of fulfilling their energy needs (heating, cooking, lighting, etc.), because of low incomes, high energy prices and low energy performance of their housing. Many stakeholders, public or private, NGOs, foundations, etc. are trying to take up the challenge and find solutions to contain and even eradicate this phenomenon, but every new study on this subject shows that there are more victims of fuel poverty in Europe each year than the people who manage to get out.

Reducing energy gaps in our societies requires breaking out of traditional models, institutions and silos isolating different spheres of society. Ashoka and the Schneider Electric Foundation believe that the most leveraged way to enable underprivileged people to have affordable access to energy is to invest in and engage entrepreneurs who create innovations that lead to system-changing solutions. That is why we co-created the “Social innovation to tackle fuel poverty” program to help improving the life conditions of millions of persons in 6 European countries (Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Great-Britain, Italy and Poland), thanks to shared expertise, strengths and networks.

How are we going to do that? Mainly by identifying, showcasing and accelerating the spread of key solutions in overcoming fuel poverty in Europe. We are launching a call for project until the 31st of October in order to surface the most innovative solutions with the higher potential for growth. 20 projects will be selected and Ashoka will accompany and support them in their scaling up strategy. For 3 months, senior advisors, consultants and experts will mentor these initiatives (more than 300 hours of sessions in total) to help them increase their impact. They will also benefit from inspiring meetings within the European network of peers and increased visibility during the whole program and particularly during COP21 in Paris on December 2015.

As a result, 20 of the most innovative Social Entrepreneurs will be equipped with scaling plans, positioned to spread their innovations and replicate their ideas locally and internationally, to bring the conversation about fuel poverty in Europe forward.

Are you working on an innovative and sustainable project to tackle fuel poverty? Know someone who is? Enter now at