The State of the Sector: On Productive Partnerships and Leveraging Unique Resources toward a Global Climate Transition

“If we want to reach SDG 7, in Africa alone, you need around $69B. That requires partnerships, that requires different types of capital coming together to the table… and it’s not just about the capital coming together, it’s about the minds and the brains” 

– Meera Shah, Shell Foundation


In the second installment of The State of the Sector, join your host Dr. Morgan DeFoort as he sits down with Steven Hunt, Senior Energy Innovation Advisor, UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), Meera Shah, Head of Portfolio-Smallholder Farmers* at Shell Foundation and Nick Goddard, UK Venture Partner at Factor[e] Ventures, to talk about how productive partnerships can make greater impact in emerging markets.

50% of Africa’s GDP, for example, is vulnerable to extreme climate patterns, but Sub-Saharan Africa is also the fastest growing region in the world, with a projected annual GDP growth of 3-4% and the world’s youngest and fastest growing population. Yet the current momentum in emerging markets like Sub-Saharan Africa is at risk without immediate impact–and it’s not just about climate mitigation.

Innovation–a key contributor to economic growth–bolsters markets and boosts resilience, improving income equality and livelihoods while mitigating climate risk. Listen in as Morgan, Steven, Meera, and Nick detail how Factor[e] Ventures, Shell Foundation, and FCDO work together to bridge market and technology gaps and leverage their partnerships toward innovating for a global climate transition. 



Podcast participants by order of appearance:

Morgan DeFoort, Managing Partner and Co-Founder, Factor[e] Ventures

Dr. Morgan DeFoort has a background in technology development and entrepreneurship with over two decades of experience working in emerging markets – predominantly India and East Africa. Before starting Factor[e], Morgan was a Co-Director of the Energy Institute at Colorado State University, supporting over 200 interdisciplinary faculty, teaching, and leading R&D programs in a wide range of technology areas including engine systems, biofuels, and cookstoves. In addition, Morgan was a director at CSU Ventures, supporting university cleantech spinouts during formation and launch. Morgan holds a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Colorado State University and a BA in Physics from Hastings College. 


Steven Hunt, Senior Energy Innovation Advisor, UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)

Steven is currently leading the FCDO’s delivery on the Ayrton Fund for clean energy innovation, including overseeing the Transforming Energy Access (TEA) platform scaled-up at COP26 in Glasgow. Previously he worked on energy policy and programmes, including the Energy SDG7, the development of the Results-Based Financing for Low Carbon Energy Access (RBF) and Green Mini-Grids Africa programmes, and the Energy Africa campaign. Steven is donor co-chair of the World Bank ESMAP Consultative Group, co-chair of the Mini-Grids Funders Group, and was founding co-chair of the Efficiency for Access Coalition. He has been working on clean energy access issues for more than 15 years, after starting his career in product design engineering.


Meerah Shah

*Meera Shah, Head of Portfolio-Smallholder Farmers, Shell Foundation (Meera’s title has changed to Head of Portfolio-Smallholder Farmers since the recording of this episode)

Meera Shah is Head of the Smallholder Farmer Portfolio at SF, where she is responsible for identifying and scaling solutions that enable smallholder farmers in Africa and South Asia to earn a sustainable living income. Previously Meera headed SF’s Household Energy and Off Grid Utilities Portfolio.

Meera currently serves on the board of Persistent (African Climate Venture Builder) and is an Advisory Board Member of Factor[e] (Venture Builder of decarbonised solutions for emerging markets). Meera has 10+ years’ experience in seeding and scaling pioneering social enterprises in Africa and India; providing them with strategic advisory and hands on operational support. She has co-created two social enterprises, served as a Board Observer for SunCulture (IoT enabled solar irrigation equipment), as an Advisory Council Member for Dharma Life (last mile distributor in rural India) and has served on the SF investment committee for three years. Meera led much of SF’s strategic work in last mile distribution and co-authored Last Mile Solutions for Low Income Consumers.

Prior to this, Meera worked for the Shell Group across a range of strategic and commercial roles in London, Milan and Istanbul. She holds a BSc in Economics Politics and International Studies from the University of Warwick. Meera is an alumni of London Business School (LBS) and has been a mentor on the LBS Entrepreneurial Edge Programme.


Nick Goddard, UK Venture Partner, Factor[e] Ventures

Nick Goddard trained to Chartered status as both a scientist and an engineer, followed by ten years’ experience working in the oil & gas, power generation, aerospace and defence industries.   Since 2018, he has served Factor[e] as its UK Venture Partner.  In this role, he helps Factor[e] to identify a pipeline of investment opportunities in Europe, mentor companies already in its portfolio and engage with its UK-based funding partners.  In parallel with his role at Factor[e], Nick works as a consultant to the UK Government’s Energy Catalyst Accelerator Programme which supports grant-recipients in their journey to commercial maturity.  Nick has a MA in Physics from Cambridge University and a PhD in Engineering from Imperial College London.


For more information on FCDO, the Ayrton fund and the TEA platform, or Shell Foundation, follow the links below to explore their LinkedIn pages and websites for impact numbers and more! 


Shell Foundation








Ayrton Fund




Factor[e] Ventures