Irrigation pumps could provide a more stable source of water for Kenyan farmers, but they currently cover only 6-8 percent of the land. Some farmers are gaining access to them through a novel source of power.
Data on markets is crucial to help energy entrepreneurs find customers, but in developing countries, that information can be hard to access. A new mapping system and other tools help identify areas where demand is concentrated.
A social entrepreneur invests the little working capital she has to bring solar electricity to a community that –like 1.2 billion people worldwide– lacks access to electricity. The community used to use dirty, expensive and choking kerosene for light to cook by and for children to learn by. The entrepreneur knows she can recoup her costs, because people are willing to pay for reliable, high-quality, clean energy – and it will be even less than what they used to pay for kerosene. Sounds like a good news story, right?
Three months later, the government utility extends the electrical grid to this same community, despite official plans showing it would take at least another four years. While this could be good news for the community, one unintended consequence is that this undermines the entrepreneur’s investment, wiping out their working capital, and deterring investors from supporting decentralized clean energy projects in other communities that lack access to electricity.