Solar 'groupon' for the rural poor

Solar 'groupon' for the rural poor

Hong Kong, Hong Kong S.A.R., China
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Bennu-Solar exists to make bringing solar energy
to rural poor a piece of cake.

How exactly? ..with:
- free resources database
- free consulting
- group purchasing

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

There are hundreds of businesses and organizations in developing countries which are bringing solar to low-income villagers. That is great! except.. Except that when they contact a factory to buy the solar products they are viewed as small clients, and as we all know, small clients pay higher price. So here we are in this twisted world where people in Germany can buy solar panels of higher quality at a lower cost. But for clients in Africa which need solar badly, the price is higher and the quality lower. Why? Because they don't come with big purchasing power? Well.. Lets see about that..

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Mmm.. one small business in Kenya indeed can't place big orders and become a VIP client of a factory to enjoy top quality products at a low price. But! how about that business in Kenya + one in Zimbabwe and Cambodia and Tanzania, and in other developing countries combined? Well, yes. Together they represent a decent size buyer. So that is what we do, we coordinate solar buyers in developing countries into a group, and leverage our collective purchasing power to get a better deal from the solar products factories. At the end of the day, it is the villagers which those businesses and organizations serve that benefit from the cost reduction and the higher quality.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

We recently completed a group purchase with businesses from Cambodia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. They told us that our group purchasing service reduced their costs by 30%, and they were also more confident in the products since we include a third party quality inspection at the factory. On top of that, they saved time because we handled the negotiation, purchasing and logistics process. So how did we do it? simple, these 3 companies were going to contact the factory on their own, not knowing about each other. But, since they learned about our service, they decided to let us handle the purchase, and we were able to bundle them together and when we approach the factory we were representing 3 buyers, making the order bigger and receiving the bulk pricing from the factory. ( We later got feedback from the business in Zimbabwe, he said he installed the solar system for a family living in a rural area. For the first time in their life they had electricity to power a fridge and TV! Without the the cost reduction they wouldn't have been able to afford it. (this kind of feedback is what keeps me going!!!)

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.


Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?


Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?


Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are a couple of ways to buy solar products for use in rural areas in developing countries: - through trading companies - directly from the factory The benefits for buying through a trading company is that they buy big, so they get lower prices from the factory, but they too mark up the price, and they might have certain agreements with specific suppliers, or maybe keep goods in stock, so the buyer doesn't really have access to the best product on the market at the best price. The benefits of contacting the factory directly is that buyers can approach any factory, but the problem is that they are only representing their own purchasing power, so they don't receive the prices and quality which big buyers get. Our coordinated group purchasing offers just the benefits.

Founding Story

I was thinking it would be nice to live on one of these beautiful South Pacific Islands, so I googled to check living costs, and was blown away by how expensive the electricity was. Since I was a researcher of solar technologies for big consulting companies, I was only aware of the debates in the US and Europe on whether or not to subsidize solar, yet, here on these islands I suddenly find out that solar is the most economic solution. So I check a bit more, and realize that there are over 1 billion people who have no access to electricity, and for them solar is the most affordable solution. But soon enough, I find out about the ugly truth that since buyers in these region don't place big orders, they get higher price quotes, and low quality. By that time I'm already in touch with dozens of buyers as I was trying to learn about this market segment, and always in the background I hear this 'groupon' everywhere. And it just came to me: why not solar groupon?
About You
Bennu Solar
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

Bennu Solar

Organization Country

, KKT, Hong Kong

Country where this project is creating social impact
Age of Innovator


Gender of Innovator


How long has your organization been operating?

1‐5 years

The information you provide here will be used to fill in any parts of your profile that have been left blank, such as interests, organization information, and website. No contact information will be made public. Please uncheck here if you do not want this to happen..

How long have you been in operation?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Social Impact
What solution(s) does your initiative address to help emerging entrepreneurs and small businesses grow and thrive in underserved communities? (select all applicable)

Access to supply chains, Access to technology, Access to economic opportunity.

What has been the impact of your solution to date?

The income we make from the group purchasing allows us to provide free consulting and operate a free resources database.
Other people describe our impact best:

What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?

We can help bring solar energy to over 1 billion (very nice) villagers in developing countries who have no access to electricity.

(1 billion is not a lot, if we increase collaboration among all those who are on this mission)

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

1. Trust.
2. Habits.
3. Fear of helping a competitor

1. we ask our users to leave a review online (via LinkedIn)
this is what it looks like on our new website (still being built..)
2. we make it easy to start purchase through the group purchasing,
buyers can transfer the payments directly to the factory as they are
used to. The only difference is that we are the ones who email and
communicate with the factory. (this is important since the factory
views us as a single point negotiation representative of dozens of
3. this is gradually being solved as more buyers become aware of the
benefits of doing it the 'groupon' way.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

bigger awarness of the availabilty of our group purchasing service

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

improve the free database to include product rating (here is a sample:

Task 2

complete this public document on solar taxes and import duties (

Task 3

introduce our BennuValue verification stickers (like Sproxil - but for solar products)

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

scale up impact

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

to manage villagers feeback and after-sales support platform for users of BennuValue verified products

Task 2

to make group purchasing a requirenment by social investors

Task 3

to open source the technology and design of solar products for rural areas

Tell us about your partnerships

we are in constant contact with hundreds of solar businesses, organizations, investors, producers, etc.

While we have no contracts they view us as partners because of the insights and knowledge we share with them:

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list

I'll gladly share insights, contacts and knowledge with others: