A while back I wrote about the need for social bankability based on the casual observation that our financial and energy systems are broken. Social bankability, simply put, is the decision, by fiat, to use public funds to fill in gaps where private banking has failed, but where the evidence shows the investments are entirely credit-worthy and socially desirable.
This is what Franklin Roosevelt did in 1933 when he decided that American farmers setting up electricity co-ops were credit worthy, even though banks didn't trust them. Muhammad Yunus did the same thing for enterprise loans to the poor with micro-credit. Now a new class of entrepreneurs are demanding the World Bank step up and do the same for off-grid clean energy access.
While innovations like crowd-funding are needed to disrupt the system, we can't let the system off the hook when it's our money being used. That's why it's exciting to see 22 of the world's leading off-grid clean energy entrepreneurs, as well as the Global Off Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA), demanding social bankability from the World Bank Group in the form of $500 million in risk adjusted investment. Because as countries around the world struggle with the ever increasing burden of austerity, the idea that scarce taxpayer money from donor countries would be used to make risky investments to subsidize a broken system is, simply put, infuriating.