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Providing affordable solar energy solutions to impoverished rural areas



Headquarters Mexico City, Mexico
Established 2010
Impact Areas Mexico
Type Hybrid
Energy Sectors
Business Model Types
Staff Size 26 and 6 Volunteers
Annual Budget $360,000
Major Funders Mexican Energy Ministry, Mexican Development Ministry, Kiva, United Way Mexico
Awards 2010: Santander Prize for Social Innovation2011: CNN Expansion2012: MIT TR352013: Ashoka Fellow, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award





Ilumexico promotes development in rural areas through solar powered electricity systems. The enterprise creates last mile distribution models to deliver affordable technologies and services and provide tools for income generation, community engagement and poverty alleviation. Ilumexico focuses on constant innovation along the entire value chain from R&D all the way to maintenance and follow up development programs.



Energy Products/Services

  • Solar Panel systems (panels, batteries, inverters, lights)
  • Solar Lights
  • Solar Cooling systems
  • Solar Pumping systems

Target Market

  • Of the 3 million people that live without electricity in Mexico, Ilumexico focuses on the 200-250 thousand households that live in small communities that will not be served by grid extension due to their economic, social, and geographic conditions.
  • Ilumexico also targets communities with intermittent grid access and some urban populations looking to improve the quality of their electricity.



Revenue Streams

  • Ilumexico has benefitted from good relationships with the Mexican Government and has received several grants to help promote its programs.
  • Ilumexico has also received a variety of grants from other development organizations and has even won a prize for a major TV competition for social enterprises in Mexico.
  • Ilumexico is focusing more on the sale of its products to generate more revenue in the future, eventually making up over half of the enterprise’s revenue.

Value Proposition

  • Ilumexico provides affordable and easily adopted solar power access to remote rural customers through last-mile distribution networks and services.
  • These products and services can increase family incomes by 20% and improve overall quality of life.
  • Other providers and installers of solar systems do not follow up or provide long term services, whereas Ilumexico operates several regional hubs and promotes social development programs in the areas where the enterprise operates.

Problem Addressed

  • 3 million Mexicans (600,000 households) live without electricity and 40% or more are expected to remain off grid for the next 10 years.
  • 83% of these households are in rural areas that have no electricity within 5km and rely on candles and diesel for lighting and energy.
  • These energy sources cost upwards of $10 a month, account for 1.5 million deaths worldwide from air pollution, and produce between 0.15-0.35 tons of CO2/year/home.

Where They Are Now

Impact to Date

  • 2,150+ households reached
  • 13,000 people benefitted
  • 42 kW solar power installed
  • 680 Tons of CO2 displaced per year


  • 2011: Obtained $500k from the Energy Ministry to work in 3 states with high energy poverty levels and $200k from the Science and Technology Council for R&D efforts.
  • 2012: Awarded 4th place in a nationwide reality show, out of over 56,000 participants, gaining important media recognition and obtaining $650k in funding.
  • 2013: Opened the first 4 regional branches and set up the training mechanisms to open 3 more by the end of the year, generating 15 new jobs for rural inhabitants.

Growth Plan

  • 2013: Close the year with 7 total branches in 4 states in Mexico and ensure government support through poverty alleviation programs.
  • 2014: Open at least 10 new branches to have regional presence in 7 states.
  • 2015: Reach 30 total branches in at least 10 states in Mexico and have important government support, influencing statewide electrification goals.

How They Deliver

Product Sourcing

  • All of Ilumexico’s products are designed by In-house engineers and specialists.
  • The products are all manufactured in Mexico.
  • Ilumexico engages in a constant revision process for all of its products based on user feedback.


  • Ilumexico focuses on an innovative last-mile distribution network that allows the enterprise to reach even the most isolated communities.
  • Ilumexico is focusing on decentralizing so that it can have a better presence in rural areas. In order to do so, the enterprise establishes regional branches (no more than 3 hours from the communities it serves), and smaller regional cells.
  • These are managed and serviced by Branch Chiefs, who provide technical assistance and local knowledge, and Rural Promoters who work to spread the word in rural areas.


  • Ilumexico began by subsidizing up to half the cost of its programs.
  • Today, most of the users pay the full price of the utility, with only the most disadvantaged and under-resourced customers receiving support.
  • Ilumexico works with microfinance institutions to help its customers pay for the costs of its solar products.


  • Ilumexico has received substantial financial support from the Mexican Energy Ministry and the Mexican Development Ministry, both of which have endorsed the project.
  • Aside from grants received from government and other agencies, Ilumexico generates the rest of its revenue from the sale of its products.


  • Ilumexico has ambitious plans to meet the energy needs of all 3 million people living without energy. The plan, however does not stop there.
  • Ilumexico then plans to expand its energy operations beyond lights and charging stations and into things such as computers, TVs, refrigerators, and other appliances, to give households more than just access to light.
  • Eventually, the organization hopes to develop energy systems that can be used to power health clinics, schools, and other social institutions in the same rural areas where it originally provided simple lighting services.
  • This approach is focused on a deeper more holistic impact for those that the enterprise serves by focusing on one country and one specific segment within the country.


  • Customers of Ilumexico save between 18-25% on their energy costs compared to what they were previously spending on other lighting sources such as diesel and candles, as well as the money that these rural customers had to pay to travel to buy these sources.
  • Businesses are able to stay open longer, generating more revenue. Likewise, children are able to study for longer once the sun goes down.
  • Ilumexico estimates that it prevents over 63.4 Tons of CO2 a year from the entering the atmosphere by displacing candles, kerosene, and diesel. Similarly, displacing kerosene reduces health risks for many people.
  • Ilumexico’s business model goes beyond simply providing electricity to those without it. The enterprise focuses on a deeper, longer lasting social impact than other energy providers.
  • During the installation process, Ilumexico conducts a series of workshops for the entire community regardless of whether they are Ilumexico customers or not.
  • The content of these workshops is based on studies conducted previously by Ilumexico in the target area and usually relate to things such as sustainability, the environment, gender equality, developing workforce skills etc.
  • These workshops have resulted in a high adoption rate (99%) of Ilumexico products by the community within a year. They also help to establish the trust that many other energy providers have failed to garner.
  • Regional distribution centers and representatives provide continued service and maintenance for all Ilumexico customers and are a major focus of the enterprise’s growth plan.





  • Ilumexico products include a variety of solar home systems based around different sized solar panels. The capacity of the panels ranges from 15W to 130W.
  •  There are several accessories that come with each panel such as light bulbs, cell phone chargers, batteries, and inverters.
  • These products can be used to power small things, like lights, and larger appliances like TVs and radios.
  • They can even be used for specific applications in places like schools or clinics such as powering computer stations, solar water pumps, and refrigerators.

Technical Data

Model Capacity No. of Lights Battery Inverter
PRO15 15W 2 LED 12V, 7Ah NO
PRO20 20W 4 LED 12V, 7Ah NO
PRO60X 60W 4 CFL 12V, 115Ah YES
PRO90X 90W 4 CFL 12V, 115Ah YES
PRO130X 130W 4 CFL 12V, 115Ah YES


Other Products

  • Solar Lights
  • Solar Cooling systems
  • Solar Pumping systems


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More Resources

Online Resources

Contact Information

Adolfo Prieto No. 1321 Col. Del Valle,

Del. Benito Juárez, CP 03100 Mexico, DF


( +52 55 55 33 35 32