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Renewable Energy in Sweden
Sweden is one of the world-leading countries in the transition to renewable energy. Sweden plans to operate in all sectors with 100% renewable energy power generation by 2040 and reduce greenhouse emissions to zero by 2045. In 2018, 68% of Sweden’s electricity derived from the renewable energy source hydro energy. Today, Sweden has been able to introduce innovation from energy companies that make the renewable energy market a booming capital venture with an aim to full-coverage renewable energy operations.

What is Renewable Energy?

Often known as clean energy, renewable energy is a sustainable, climate-driven and innovative alternative to fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal. Renewable energy consists of natural wind, sun, water and nuclear elements that can produce electricity through transmissions. Heating, lights and factory machines often use the cost-effective option of fossil fuels. However, the limited quantity and damaging dispositions of fossil fuels have caused environmental concerns for Swedish and international energy companies. These concerns have resulted in a rising demand for resources and data about renewable energies.

Renewable Energy Sources in Sweden

Renewable energies are the fastest-growing source of electricity in Sweden with more than 50% of the current electricity production adding up to 89,306 gigawatt-hours. Although nuclear energy has had contributing factors in Sweden with 42% of the country’s 2018 electricity production, nuclear usage has sparked many concerns since 1980.

Hydro energy is the leading renewable energy source in Sweden. It powers most electricity productions with 61,605 GWh in 2018, while wind energy is the second efficient renewable energy source with more than 20 TWh in 2019. Forests, the largest biofuel in Sweden, regulate the country’s bioenergy. These forests cover 63% of Swedish land. Furthermore, solar energy could surge from 400 GWh in 2018 to 1.7 TWh in 2022.

The International Renewable Energy Agency stated that “The country’s power system is almost entirely decarbonized already, based on extensive hydropower resources and nuclear power, as well as district heating fuelled by biomass.” Sweden has successfully integrated energy powers with its current climate objectives, including the taxation of carbon dioxide emissions on factories and other sectors.

Citizens Approve of Renewable Power

Sweden has been increasingly operating on hydro-driven electricity since the first lightbulb in 1882. As citizens comfortably adapt to the country’s rich supply of moving water and biomass, transportation and electricity bills are also becoming a great benefit. The Borgen Project spoke with Stockholm-based Health Administration student Ajoub Junior about whether complete renewable energy by 2040 is possible for Sweden. Junior stated, “I do believe it because I’ve seen great improvements all over around Sweden this few years.” As electricity companies transition to 100% renewable energy sources, many customers are noticing cheaper bills and changes in climate policies. Junior said, “In 10 to 20 years from now, I hope this country is free from fossil fuels.”

The Contribution of Competitive Markets

Vattenfall AB, Fortum Oyj, Swedish Biofuels AB, General Electric Company and RES Group are Sweden’s top five leading renewable energy companies to date, making the market “moderately consolidated.”

With a competitive market in a ready-to-go country, a 100% sustainable energy operation by 2040 is certainly an attainable goal. Although experts believe challenges in policy and system operations will likely compromise the prediction, achieving a 100% renewable power system is a possible goal with a promising future for Sweden’s climate.

Ayesha Swaray
Photo: Flickr

Impacting Investing
Investing in the right organizations has the potential to change the world. Impact investing is a type of investment that focuses on social or environmental benefits as well as financial or capital returns. Impact investing can be done through for-profit or nonprofit organizations that are looking to improve the world. It can be done in emerging or developed markets anywhere in the world as part of a growing market that provides capital to address global issues in sectors like “sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, conservation, microfinance and affordable and accessible basic services including housing, healthcare and education,” as the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) says. The market is estimated to be at around $502 billion as of April 2019.

According to GIIN, there are four primary characteristics of impact investing:

  1. Intentionality – The intention is one of the main things that differentiates impact investing from regular investing. The intention behind impact investing must be the desire to create measurable social or environmental benefits.
  2. Use evidence and impact data in investment design – Investments must have evidence or data that indicates the investment will have social or environmental benefits.
  3. Manage impact performance – Investments must be managed toward the specific intention of the investment. This would mean having feedback loops and means of communicating performance information to ensure that the investment is working toward the intention of the investment.
  4. Contribute to the growth of the industry – Impact investors must use shared industry terms to communicate their goals, strategy and growth. They also share information so that others may learn from their experience and adjust their investments accordingly.

Examples of Impact Investments

  • The Omidyar Network – Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay, and his wife Pam obtained large quantities of wealth after the company went public and wanted to do some good with it. He set up a limited liability company (LLC) to make investments in early-stage innovations that are able to generate profits. He also set up a 501(c)3, a tax-exempt nonprofit, to provide grants for public goods and assistance to disadvantaged communities as well as subsidize the production of beneficial goods. The use of both of these allows the Omidyar Network to use for-profit capital and nonprofit grants to benefit society.
  • Actiam Impact Investing – Actiam Impact Investing invested in Pro Mujer Bolivia, an organization that provides training and financial services to women in Bolivia. Janeth Villegas is one of many women who benefited from the program. Pro Mujer taught Villegas a number of skills including accounting and business management which empowered her to start her own chocolate company that she is now teaching her kids to run.
  • Salkhit Wind Farm – Impact investors invested capital in Salkhit Windfarm, the first renewable energy generator connected to the central grid in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. The installation of this wind farm has reduced coal burning by 122,000 tons annually and has created over 3,000 local jobs.
  • General ElectricGeneral Electric (GE) provides impact capital through its Ecomagination Accelerator to finance energy conservation efforts. Ecomagination investments totaled $1.4 billion in 2014. “We want to inspire more companies to work together and tackle the world’s greatest resource problems,” Ecomagination’s global executive director Deb Frodl said. With this goal in mind, the company also aims to decrease reliance on fossil fuels in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • d.light – This for-profit company invests in and manufactures solar energy and distributes its products through the developing world. d.light’s mission is “To create a brighter future by making clean energy products universally available and affordable.” The focus here is on providing clean energy to the developing world which helps reduce dependence on fossil fuels and provides electricity to people who might not otherwise have it.

– Sarah Faure
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Corporate Matching
What is corporate matching? When a company recognizes the charitable actions of their employees and decides to match that same altruistic nature through financial means. The following companies practice corporate matching (and are in no particular order).

1. General Electric

Today, the GE Foundation matches over 35 million dollars annually to nonprofit and educational institutions.

2. Google

Matching up to over $12,000 in donations per employee each year, Google has been highlighted as a company that not only matches charitable giving, but also matches funds employees personally raise for charities.

3. CarMax

Matching to nearly every nonprofit organization, CarMax’s 1:1 match policy on all donations applies to not only all employees, but all of the employees’ dependents until the age of 26.

4. Soros Fund Management

This company has the highest matching gift ratio (3:1 match for employees and 2:1 match for partners) of any corporation, creating a high incentive for Soros families to give.

5. Boeing

Boeing matches both employee and retiree donations. In addition, they provide a $100 grant to a nonprofit every time an employee participates in a charitable event (run/walk/bike type events).

6. BP

This company offers every type of employee giving with their generous giving programs. BP allows for the public to track all of its charitable spending in addition to the standard 1:1 matching.

7. Gap Corporation

Including many of the Gap subsidiaries, Gap employees can request matches made to majority of nonprofit based organizations. They also offer the most comprehensive and user-friendly online match system. Gifts made within the company can range from $1,000 to $10,000.

8. Microsoft

Through employee giving within the company, more that $1 billion was donated to charitable organizations within the match program.

9. Johnson & Johnson

All company employees, including retirees, are eligible to request up to $10,000 in donation matching. They also have a 2:1 matching ratio for current employees, and a 1:1 rate for all retirees.

10. Bank of America

With a 1:1 matching for all family members, including those of part-time employees, Bank of America has a $5,000 matching cap and has a longer period of acceptance for those matches than other companies.

– Alysha Biemolt

Sources: Double the Donation 1, Double the Donation 2, Double the Donation 3,

General Electric Grant to Pay University of Ghana Students' Tuition
A mere three percent of Ghanaians ages 18 to 21 are enrolled in some form of higher education. Nearly 80 percent of Ghana’s population survives on less than $2 per day, and university tuition is far from affordable for most.

However, thanks to a $100,000 General Electric grant, tertiary education will become a little more accessible for impoverished students in Ghana.

The University of Ghana, one of the country’s top-ranking institutions of higher learning, is the recipient of this grant. With 29,754 current students, the University of Ghana is both the largest and oldest public university in the country. It is one of six public tertiary educational institutions in Ghana, which, along with the 11 private post-secondary schools, make up Ghana’s university offerings.

According to the University of Sussex in Ghana, “46.6 percent of the nation’s income/expenditure is enjoyed by the richest 20 percent of the population, whereas the poorest 20 percent have access to only 5.6 percent of national income/expenditure.”

Access to education, especially secondary and post-secondary schooling can often become a luxury of the wealthy, entrenching patterns of poverty. Herein lies the importance of scholarships designated for financially disadvantaged students.

A well-instructed population benefits developing countries on a variety of levels. Education gives individuals a tool for socioeconomic mobility while also developing a knowledgeable and skilled workforce resource. This “human capital” is exactly the sort of resource Mr. Leslie Nelson, CEO of General Electric, Ghana, hopes to foster through ongoing partnerships with Ghanaian universities.

Education is an important part of development for impoverished countries. In Ghana, primary school enrollment is on the rise and literacy remains comparatively high for the region with youth literacy rising above that of adults. Although poverty still remains prevalent, these statistics offer a heartening glimpse of future developments.

Emma-Claire LaSaine

Sources: UG, AllAfrica, Sussex
Photo: How Africa

investments_in_Kenya
In January of this year, USAID announced a new poverty reduction initiative in Kenya. In partnership with Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) and General Electric (GE), USAID promotes investments in Kenya between the KCB and medical institutions that need financial assistance to offer appropriate medical care.

To provide this assistance, banks will grant loans to hospitals and other health centers. These investments in Kenya would have previously been considered unsafe and unlikely to be returned, but under the agreement with USAID, they are guaranteed reimbursement. If a full return cannot be made, USAID will pay back 50 percent of the loan.

The KCB, according to the deal, is obliged to divvy $1 million for medical equipment like MRIs, incubators and other standard-increasing machinery to be used in local health centers. GE has left $660,000 dollars for USAID to use as potential reimbursement funds, though only $500,000 (50 percent) should be used. In return, the Kenyan health services will purchase GE equipment, expanding GE’s global market.

There are some, however, such as Monica Onyango of Boston University, who are afraid this may lead to an overstated importance of imported goods, when in fact, locally manufactured equipment is better for local economic development.

Michael Metzler, director of Development Credit Authority (which is the tool used by USAID to promote loans, as in the initiative in Kenya,) reassures skeptics like Onyango that local business and manufacturing will still have the power Kenya needs it to have to grow. Quoted recently in a Global Post article, Metzler said that “we’d be very sensitive to a deal in which that was the case.”

Aside from the deal’s economic influence, clearer effects of the enhanced medical treatment new loans insure will be seen in public health. This expedites poverty reduction in Kenya by reducing the number of deaths caused by preventable diseases thriving in impoverished communities. These include diseases such as HIV, diarrhea, tuberculosis and malaria.

Illness and poverty go hand in hand, and until one is dealt with, the other is likely to expand. This new USAID initiative incorporates this idea and acts accordingly.

Adam Kaminski

Sources: Health Poverty Action, Global Post, Federal News Radio
Photo: USAID

Middle_Eastern_Women
General Electric has partnered with Ashoka Changemakers to find initiatives across the Middle East and North Africa who are providing more ecomonic opportunities for women. In the Arab world, women only represent a quarter of the workforce and less than 1 in 7 businesses are owned by women.

Here are 3 initiatives in the Middle East that were recognized by General Electric and Ashoka Changemakers for their efforts to improve working conditions for Middle Eastern women:

1. Roudha Center

Roudha Center is a resource center for women looking for information to help them start their own businesses in Qatar. The center offers business, legal, and financial advice for entrepreneurial women, as well as training and programming services. Roudha focuses on young Middle Eastern women who hope to become entreupeners and encouraging them from a younger age.

On their website they are quoted, “In Qatar the arena is still fresh for women entrepreneurs, especially those who do not have existing family business setups to rely on. In general, the struggle to setup and grow a business is harder for women at this stage. Therefore, Roudha Center saw the niche and potential in helping women in Qatar in fostering their passion to open a business.”

2. Women’s Digital League

The Women’s Digital League is an organization in Pakistan that is owned and operated by women. This organization provides digital services to people who, for a variety of reasons, are unable to work away from home. WDL helps set up the infrastructure and also provides assistance with programs such as wordpress and graphic designing so women can improve marketable skills.

3. Glowork

Based in Saudi Arabia, Glowork is an organization that finds jobs for Middle Eastern women. Nearly 1/3 of Saudi women are unemployed while 75% of those women have college educations. Glowork operates by making jobs that were previously harder for women to find or apply to more accessible.

Colleen Eckvahl

Sources: Huffington Post, Women’s Digital League, CSR Wire, Roudha.org
Photo: Patheos