Solar Sister: Lighting up livelihoods from one sister to another

Sustainable Energy

Solar Sister: Lighting up livelihoods from one sister to another

Solar Sister entrepreneurs earn commissions for the sale of solar energy products to people who need them. Photo: <a href="http://www.solarsister.org/">Solar Sister</a>
Solar Sister entrepreneurs earn commissions for the sale of solar energy products to people who need them. Photo: Solar Sister

A recent CNN article explains how one group in east Africa aims to help women create economic opportunities and eradicate energy poverty at the same time through commission-based sales of solar products in their community network.

Using an Avon-style women's distribution system, Solar Sister trains, recruits and supports female entrepreneurs in East Africa to sell affordable solar lighting and other green products such as solar lamps and mobile phone chargers. The women use their community networks of family and neighbors to build their own businesses, earning a commission on each sale.

Solar Sister founder Katherine Lucey, a former investment banker ... says ending a culture of dependency on aid is crucial to help people escape economic hardship and deal with the issue of energy poverty. She explains: "There's not enough philanthropy in the world to solve this problem," she says. "A third of the world population doesn't have access to electricity -- it's not going to be solved by philanthropy, it's going to be solved by some kind of market mechanism where people have access to this product ... and purchase as they need it."

With almost 300 sisters, this market-driven model is looking to expand beyond Uganda, Rwanda, and South Sudan to help light the way for other countries in the continent.

Related: Solar Sister seeks to light up Africa with a micro consignment model (+ video)

RELATED: Lighting a pathway for solar in Uganda, a Mercy Corps case study

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