According to the EU Energy Poverty Observatory more than 50 million households in the European Union are struggling to attain adequate warmth, pay their utility bills on time and live in homes free of damp and mold. In the CEE region alone, the percentage of people unable to keep home adequately warm in 2016 ranged from 4,7% in Czech Republic to 41,3% in Bulgaria. On top of that, in 2017 the percentage of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the region was well above 20% in most of the countries, with higher figures in Romania (36%) and Bulgaria (39%).

The Social Innovation to Tackle Energy Poverty Solutions Accelerator is an initiative co-created by Ashoka and the Schneider Electric Foundation, under the aegis of Fondation de France, with Enel Romania as local partner.

The aim of the program is to identify and support young innovative ideas and mature projects working in the field of energy poverty in five European countries: Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. After two selection stages 15 finalists will be selected to join a 5-months acceleration program, which will help them improve their strategy and amplify their positive impact on society and on the environment.

After the final selection phase, one winner will be chosen for each country and will be awarded a prize of 3.500 euro.

Event Timeline

Thu, 12 Sep 2019
Thu, 21 Feb 2019
Feb. 21st (09:00 CET) - April 12th (24:00 CET)
Call for Projects

April 13th - May 1st
Local Selection

From April 13th, 2019 until May 1st, 2019, each country will gather a Local Selection Jury (formed of Schneider Electric Representatives, including the Country President if possible, Ashoka representative, key experts, and other local partners of the project – maximum 5 people) to select the 5 best projects that will be sent for review to the European Selection Jury.

May 2nd - May 15th
European Selection

From May 2nd, 2019 until May 15th, 2019, a European Selection Jury (formed of Schneider Electric and Ashoka European Leadership teams, key experts and partners, Schneider Electric Sustainable Development Director and if possible, Schneider Electric EVP Europe, one former winner – maximum 8 people) will select the 15 best projects. Out of the 15 finalists selected, minimum 10 will be mature ideas and maximum 5 young ideas. 

May 17th, 2019
Announcement of finalists

May 16th - June 11th
Matching Phase

The project team will assess the finalists’ main needs and challenges. Based on the analysis, each finalist will be part of a triad which is made up of a local advisor / mentor (members of the Ashoka network) and a Schneider Electric Employee. 

June 11th – 12th
Launch of the Impact Programme (Prague)

We are planning a 2 days learning experience to kick off the Impact Program. The purpose of this event is to support the finalists to acquire knowledge and tools regarding systems change, social financing, social impact reporting, communications and other relevant topics identified in the selection phases.    

June 11th - November 10th
Impact program

The project team, together with the advisory teams of consultants and mentors, will offer dedicated support to the selected social entrepreneurs for 5 months, for a total of around 300 hours of personalized and specialized mentoring sessions. On top of that, we will plan online sharing meeting among the finalists and thematic webinars delivered by partners of the project. The goal of this phase is to help the social entrepreneurs craft an effective and impactful sustainable strategy or scale up strategy.

November 20th-21st
Final event - announcing the winners (Brussels)

On November 20th-21st we will have 2 days event in Brussels where the finalists meet again and have feedback sessions with experts on their new strategies. Furthermore, they will have the opportunity to pitch their consolidated strategies in front of the European Jury. The Jury will select the 5 winners (one winner per country). 

European Jury


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After 3 months of searching and selecting projects, people and organisation who tackle the issues of energy poverty, we can proudly announce who are the finalists for this year's edition of Social Innovation to Tackle Energy Poverty Solutions Accelerator, co-created by Ashoka and the 


Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries show ‘High’ to ‘Extreme’ levels of energy poverty, according to a new report released by the Right to Energy (R2E) Coalition on 20 February 2019. Collectively, these countries account for a large share of the estimated >50 million EU citizens who cannot afford enough energy to support their health and well-being.


Beside being one of the most polluted cities in Europe, Katowice was the host for COP24, where leaders and policy makers around the world gathered to talk about the future of our planet and take actions regarding climate change. This was the perfect stage to talk more pragmatically about issues regarding energy poverty in Europe and more specific, in Central and Eastern Europe.


Energy Agency of Plovdiv (EAP) was established in 2000 as the first SAVE agency in Bulgaria.

The agency is promoting efficient and sustainable use of energy and renewable energy. Its services are utilised by the public administration, businesses communities, and consumers. It carries out feasibility studies, energy and environmental analyses and modelling, energy and air quality projects identification, development and management. More than 50 EU projects were successfully completed. The project with which they applied for the competition is an innovative crowdfunding campaign for energy poor households, located in the Plovdiv area. 

Bulgarian start up, founded by two 17-year olds from the Technical school in Sofia. The teenagers

 invented an electric bicycle, powered entirely by solar energy. The team plans to focus on upgrading old bicycles to electric ones and offering it as a service to customers. The solution is very cheap and easy to scale which makes a good candidate to trace the room for "green" transportation in the cities. SoBike are currently working on their second prototype that will allow the integration of a universal solar panel system combined with an electric engine to fit on every bike.

Bucharest’s District 1 City Hall plans to implement a pilot-program for thermal rehabilitation of

houses. Currently, for the 1st  District, there are roughly  2100 applications for joining the individual (houses) thermal rehabilitation program. In order to structure the program, we consider it necessary to identify 35-50 houses that comply with the general criteria of the above-mentioned strategy and integrate them in a pilot program. By implementing the pilot program, we should define the criteria for selecting houses for the pilot (35-50   houses   out   of   2100   applications),   the   design   and   execution   constraints,   the   possible   legal shortcomings,  identify  how  to  achieve  energy  performance  indicators  as  well  as  develop  standard solutions  (categories  of  works)  that  could  be  implemented  widely, without  being  blocked  by  individual design constraints.

Through Winterization, during three years, 90 families with children at risk (30 families per yea

r) will benefit from improved households in order to protect children from extreme cold during wintertime.  Based on the needs assessments,  a  tailored winterization intervention at the household level will be done. This winterization intervention may consist of repairs or endowments with new heating stoves and/or windows and/or entrance doors, chimney repair or construction including the works needed to be done in order to install and sustain the winterization items.  This tailored intervention will contribute to the household sustainability in terms of improved living conditions and heating, it will help the families to have households better equipped for winter time and it will increase their comfort in terms of being warmer and healthier. 

Not  all barriers  to  increase  energy  efficiency  and  related  climate  effects  have  yet  b

een addressed:  energy poverty with  its ramifications is not properly understood and integrated in policy-making, especially locally; there is an absence of specific data and correlation between existing data sets, whereas existing data does not materialize into effective policy tools; there is general lack of information and engagement of relevant stakeholders. These objectives are met by delivering a mapping of the socio-spatial dimensions of energy poverty; Quantifying the impact of energy poverty on households and GHG emissions; Developing a new online energy-saving tool; Delivering a series of stakeholder workshops as well as developing upscaling and dissemination activities.

Energy poverty is the consequence of three factors: Low income +  High  Energy  Bills  +  Poor  E

nergy Efficiency.  energiaTA will address all 3 in the following order: 1.  Increasing  Energy  Efficiency, 2. Reducing Energy  Bills and 3. Increasing  Income:  Skills  Dev,  Education,  Arts  &  Crafts,  Agriculture, Tourism. There are 3 barriers to be addressed to solve the energy problem when talking about accessibility: Technological, Physical and Economical. They aim to address all 3 as well as providing services and products B2C, going directly to the vulnerable population, having local city halls as partners. The first step is to reduce energy demand through energy efficiency solutions.  The second stage is represented by PV solar production systems people could lease, paying no upfront money, but a monthly fee they could afford.  In the end, we will address increasing income by working with other organisations in finding local opportunities for growth and partnering with local companies.

We propose to develop a business plan on the wider production of environmental-friendly heating f

uel(briquette)and to explore the opportunities around efficient heating stoves to be able to use local sources to tackle the everyday heating problem for disadvantaged families. We would also like to broaden our already proven solutions, like debt management,  improving planning skills, setting up community rules, developing responsibility towards the environment and community members among children and adults alike to reach a higher living standard. Solving the energy puzzle would enable our target group to advance to the 21stcentury and catch up with the rest of the country. 

Our team is dedicated to designing and building efficient bricks and traditionally tilled masonry

heaters for low-income families. AproTech is a working group of  Vedegylet  (Protect the future  Association) which was founded in 2000 with the goal of making Hungary a more just society and a country that uses its resources in a sustainable manner. The goal of the AproTech is to provide accessible services for the most vulnerable communities, primary in the area of winter heating and energy consumption. 

Local Bulgarian Jury

Local Czech Jurors

Local Hungarian Jury


Local Polish Jury


Strategic Partners



At MOVE.BG we drive sustainable social impact via innovation and collaboration. We act as a platform to connect, inspire and accelerate local agents of change to create larger impact.
What we do:
Connect changemakers and provide space for community engagement and idea generation
Shape solutions for sustainable development through innovation and cooperation
Research the potentially successful sectors of the economy and set the trends
Educate by embracing the culture of sharing, collaboration and co-creation
Inspire others by showing the positive examples of change

Enel Romania is a leading private investor in energy, with operations in power distribution and supply as well as renewable energy production, active on the local market since 2005. The company has 3,100 employees and around 3 million business and household end users in the country. The E-Distributie companies operate a network of around 128,000 kilometres in three key areas of the country: Muntenia Sud (including Bucharest), Banat and Dobrogea, accounting for one third of Romania’s electricity distribution market, and are developing an investment programme aimed at securing a proper service for customers, improving the quality and security of the network while also complying with Enel’s environmental standards. Enel Energie and Enel Energie Muntenia are leading suppliers of energy in the country, and their offer includes both electricity and natural gas, as well as value-added services (assistance, lighting and others).

Local Romanian Jury

Network Partners

Network Partners are organizations that spread the word about the “Social Innovation to Tackle Energy Poverty” program through their networks so that we can find and select the most innovative social entrepreneurs.



Checz Rebublic, Hungary, Romania, Poland, Bulgaria


Ambassadors are individuals with knowledge of and expertise in the energy field who help us map the local ecosystem and nominate the most innovative social entrepreneurs to apply to join the “Social Innovation to Tackle Energy Poverty” program.



Fülöp Orsolya

Energia Klub, Policy Director, Hungary

Barta Zsombor

The Hungary Green Building Council (HuGBC), President, Hungary

Lévai Gábor

GreenBrands CEO, Hungary

Communication Partners

Communication Partners are organizations that spread the word about the “Social Innovation to Tackle Energy Poverty” program through the media so that we can optimize the number of social entrepreneurs we reach.