A Sidley team, in connection with the firm’s Emerging Enterprises Pro Bono Program, recently helped our client MicroEnergy Credits (MEC) enter the emerging carbon market in Korea. MEC, which has been a Sidley client since 2014, helps provide micro-entrepreneurs, primarily women, in developing countries with clean energy products that result in reductions in CO2 emissions that can be certified under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Sidley assisted MEC with their complex, multi-stage initiative to convert certified emission reduction credits generated by MEC through the sale of clean energy products in India into Korean Offset Credits (KOC). The KOCs can then be sold to power companies in Korea under legislation introduced in 2010 permitting the allocation and trading of greenhouse gas emission credits.
MEC’s clean energy products include solar lighting, efficient stoves, and water purifiers. The company partners with microfinance institutions (MFIs) to launch and scale clean energy lending programs by providing social impact carbon credits to net zero pioneers. Each carbon credit comes from a household that has upgraded their home and/or lifestyle using clean energy. Since its founding in 2007, MEC has expanded throughout India and has also established a footprint in Kenya, Mongolia, and Uganda.
“Sidley’s support has been amazing, and they have truly gone above and beyond their role of mere legal counsel,” said April Allderdice, CEO and co-founder of MEC. “They have provided pertinent and strategic insights, understood our social mission, and have the right alignment to our cause. It has been a fantastic partnership, and Sidley has been with us at every stage of our growth.”
Sidley first represented MEC in connection with an equity investment by a social impact investment fund. The firm also advised on two successive bridge financings from an angel investor and a term loan facility from a socially oriented lender, as well as advising on various proposed changes to MEC’s capital structure.
“The work that we have done for MEC under the Emerging Enterprises Program is a wonderful example of the interesting and rewarding experiences that await Sidley lawyers who decide to participate in pro bono work,” said retired partner Michael Yanowitch.
More than 30 Sidley lawyers from multiple practice groups have been involved in helping MEC scale their growth over the years, including M&A, Global Finance, Capital Markets, IP Litigation, Corporate Governance, and Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation.
Sidley’s Emerging Enterprises Pro Bono Program, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, provides free legal support to eligible small- and medium-size for-profit enterprises and market-focused nongovernmental organizations and nonprofits that have a clear social impact in developing countries.