REACHING THE LAST-MILE WOMEN’S SOCIAL AND SUSTAINABLE ENERGY ENTREPRENEURSHIP

This study seeks to understand the impact of one social enterprise in Tanzania, Solar Sister, in providing access to clean energy—in the form of household solar lanterns—to remote, rural areas. The study’s findings reveal that, first, based on a three-indicator last-mile index (LMI), Solar Sister is indeed reaching remote households. Second, rural customers in the areas where Solar Sister operates have few alternative options for clean energy. Solar Sister thus plays a crucial role in bringing clean energy to communities that other organizations are not reaching. Third, some indication exists of a bias against saleswomen, underscoring the role gender-conscious interventions may play in combatting such prejudice. Finally, rural customers appear to place considerable importance on the social aspects of a purchase, such as whether local after-sales service is available and whether a salesperson is someone familiar and trusted. This preference far exceeded even the financial consideration of paying for a product in instalments, validating Solar Sister’s approach to champion locally-embedded entrepreneurs.