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 financing, Access to talent, Access to supply chains, Access to technology, Access to economic opportunity, Policy change/advocacy.
What has been the impact of your solution to date?
Solar Sister launched its high impact program in early 2010 by training 10 women in rural Uganda. Today, we have a growing network of 171 Solar Sister entrepreneurs in Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan bringing the benefits of clean energy to over 31,880 Africans. We have built a strong and vibrant team led by Katherine Lucey who was recently selected to be an Ashoka Fellow. Solar Sister delivers expertise in business, clean energy technology and a uniquely women-led effort to advance innovative women’s empowerment solutions. This is complimented with strong partnerships across our value chain that includes product suppliers, grassroots women’s networks, carbon finance, monitoring & evaluation linkages and institutional support from some of the leading actors for addressing the gender face of energy poverty.
What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?
Solar Sister intends to scale its high impact program to build an expanded network of 3,000 Solar Sister Entrepreneurs over a three-year period. This expanded program will bring the benefits of solar lighting and mobile phone charging technologies to the benefit of 2.7 million Africans. In addition to greatly expanded access, this will bring cumulative household economic benefit of $48.6 million by displacing 198 million liters of kerosene use and mitigating 610,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. SolConnect will be a critical business tool to optimally grow our business in our existing and new markets. In addition to portable solar solutions, we plan to add solar phone charging businesses, solar hair salons and improved cookstoves to our portfolio.
What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?
Solar Sister is a network of women entrepreneurs. Often, communities are used to NGO give-aways and we have to ensure a shift from this mindset to ensure that Solar Sister is perceived as a true “business opportunity”. As a social business, effective data capture and inventory management are vital for Solar Sister’s growth. So we are investing in strong business management software, solutions, services to improve our business process. As we recruit, train and mentor a wider network of Solar Sister entrepreneurs, another key requirement is to build incentive structures to reward and encourage high performers who can benefit from increased earnings while inspiring and recruiting other motivated women in the program.
Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone