Impact investing is a growing market that aims to reconcile development goals and profit-driven ventures. This project analyses enterprise grant-making – grants given directly to companies, which often occurs at earlier stages of development projects – and institutional grants. It uses data journalism techniques to examine a series of innovative projects combating energy poverty.

The project focuses on the stories of Gravity Light, a lamp that people can charge using sand. It analyses a soccer ball that acts as a power generator. It looks at the story of the Wonderbag, a device that reduces the energy needed to cook. It checks the key people, the funding and the owners behind each project.

The relationships that are unveiled show how innovative projects are almost always linked to US-educated people. The project shows that institutions such as the World Bank are at the heart of the network and thus wield huge power on new developments in the market. Most importantly, the team shows that not one project can claim to be a silver bullet for development. Most well-intentioned project managers from foreign countries with innovative ideas fail to show better results than local entrepreneurs who market-tested their solutions. Technological advances often fail to make a difference as project managers do not invest enough in marketing and in convincing potential users of the superiority of their solution. Bringing a fact-based, "dispassionate" vision of development projects on the energy market provides a fresh change from sensationalist reporting.

Project links


Project information

  • Locations
    Paris - France
  • Duration
    6 months
  • Release date
    November 2013
  • Budget
    € 28000
  • Round