Depth/Holistic Impact Focused

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Overview

Many enterprises believe that without training and/or community development, target beneficiaries won’t be able to truly take advantage of energy access and/or maintain installations such as community based power plants. Most enterprises with this focus are non-profit, financed by grants and donations and use subsidies to achieve affordability and distribute through community-based implementation. Enterprises with this model are more likely to include anecdotal measurements in their impact metrics, as sometimes holistic impact is difficult to measure through numbers.

Pros

Infrastructure (both physical infrastructure like roads and human infrastructure like education levels) in an enterprise’s target community is so low that without the a great deal of capacity building, the product couldn’t be sustainably maintained. This kind of a situation requires a holistic approach as a solution. If the product is large scale and/or complex, communal ownership, training, or job creation may be necessary to support its long-term viability (ex. DESI Powercommunity power plants, blueEnergy wind/solar installations). Many enterprises believe that energy solutions are only a means to an end, and without community development and job creation training, energy customers will only receive minimal benefit.

Cons

It is difficult to achieve holistic impact and scale at the same time.  Generally breadth is sacrificed to achieve depth, though some enterprises scale through teaching others how to replicate their model. Enterprises using this model are primarily non-profit and need donor funding. Some enterprises have difficulty convincing donors that reaching fewer people with greater holistic impact is more important than the reverse. Holistic impact is often harder to measure than number of products sold.

Case Study

Light Up the World

Light Up The World (LUTW) designs and implements community-based installations of solar home systems with local partner NGOs in over 53 countries. They assess the needs and capabilities of the beneficiaries for each project and custom-designs the project with an emphasis on maximum sustainability. Projects always include knowledge transfer to local technicians who can maintain and repair the systems and build in ongoing fees to cover these costs.

LUTW’s projects are all commissioned and subsidized by donors but a community contribution is always built in so that the products are valued and to cover maintenance costs. LUTW’s niche is working in off-grid areas that are not served by the market and where grid extension is deemed uneconomic in the foreseeable future. They see the challenge of making off-grid lighting affordable as being much less in the cost of the products as in their delivery, i.e. designing an appropriate business model , transferring the skills to maintain the products over time, and setting up the supply chain for parts; these are the foundations upon which private sector activities can take root.

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