Entries open for the 2023 Ashden Awards: global climate prize seeks African organisations powering a fairer future

Entries are open for the 2023 Ashden Awards. The eight awards announced today will supercharge climate innovation creating a fairer future, particularly by widening access to clean energy.

The awards are seeking trailblazing, empowering initiatives in low-income countries and the UK. There are five awards open to African organisations, with one focused purely on solutions from the continent.

The winning innovation will tackle inequality as well as the causes and effects of global heating. More than 200 businesses, charities, and public sector projects have been boosted by an Ashden Award since the prizes were launched in 2005.

Applications open on 18 January and close on 8 March, with winners announced this autumn after a rigorous judging process. Entry is free, and winners receive a grant of up to £25,000, publicity, and connection to new funders, investors, and partners.

Four of the five international awards will boost efforts to widen access to clean energy. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 48% of people lack access to electricity.

These include awards for organisations supporting smallholder farmers by energizing agriculture, helping refugees and displaced people boost their incomes through clean energy, and giving people the skills and opportunities to enter the clean energy workforce.

Another award purely focused on Africa, is for solutions in integrated energy – work that connects diverse on and off-grid systems to make sure clean energy is accessible and affordable for everyone.

A final international award is for natural climate solutions. This recognises work strengthening the incomes, wellbeing, and security of Indigenous peoples and local communities – allowing them to act as guardians and restorers of their land.

Calling all trailblazers

Dr Stephen Hall, Ashden Head of Awards, said: “Africa is home to extraordinary innovation, and also to many of the communities most threatened by climate change. With leaders elsewhere dragging their feet on climate action, it’s no surprise people in Africa are forging ahead with homegrown solutions.

“We are particularly keen to reward innovation that puts the power in the hands of communities and supports the most marginalised and disadvantaged.

“We promise to do all we can to raise the profile of our winners on the global stage and connect them with opportunities for funding and investment. So if you’re a trailblazer creating a fairer zero carbon future, or you know someone who is, please spread the word or apply to the 2023 Ashden Awards.”

Winners earn major donations and global publicity

Recent Ashden Awards winners include YICE Uganda. The organisation empowers marginalised people to carry out climate-friendly agriculture. YICE used their winner’s grant to launch a new training centre, while coverage of their victory led one donor to give the organisation 55,000 USD.

Spokesperson and founder of YICE Uganda Noah Ssempijja said: “Our brand has become much stronger than before the Ashden Award success. The news was published across a wide range of Ugandan media and also in East Africa and we’re still getting coverage now, which is great for our profile. We can talk to donors with confidence and have applied for more funding.”

Other recent winners include Kakuma Ventures, which brings jobs and internet access to refugee camp residents in Kenya. After their 2022 award win, Ashden-supported founder Innocent Tshimbola was invited to speak on stage at COP27, bringing a refugee’s perspective to the world’s largest climate summit.

How can organisations apply?

Organisations should visit the Ashden website to find application forms, detailed descriptions of each award and the award process, and award criteria. The website also features more about past winners and the benefits of winning an award.
2023 Award categories relevant to African organisations:

  • The Ashden Award for Integrated Energy Africa will support innovators connecting diverse systems to make sure clean energy is accessible and affordable for everyone, with a focus in and around the continent’s towns and cities.
  • The Ashden Award for Energising Agriculture will reward those helping off-grid communities grow, store, process, and sell their crops.
  • The Ashden Award for Natural Climate Solutions will support the work of Indigenous people and local communities restoring and protecting their territories.
  • The Ashden Award for Skills Powering Energy Access will boost organisations bringing training to marginalised people in low-income countries, recognising the importance of skills in all areas of the energy access sector.
  • The Ashden Award for Energising Refugees and Displaced People will accelerate clean energy solutions helping refugees raise their incomes – and so look forward to a more secure life and brighter future.

Ashden’s mission is to accelerate transformative climate solutions and build a more just world. Through awards and programmes, Ashden promotes and supports climate and energy innovators – including businesses, non-profits, and public sector organisations.