Solar for All: Providing Electricity to the Base of the Pyramid Through Social Entrepreneurship (2014)

Client Organization: 
Ashoka: Solar for All Initiative
Client is confirmed: 
Project Location : 
Global with a focus on Haiti
Secondary Client Organization: 
Summary of Project Idea: 

The Solar for All Masters Project worked with the global nonprofit Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) to determine a solar lantern market entry strategy for Haiti. SELF's goal in Haiti is to provide as many high quality lanterns as possible to impoverished rural populations that have no access to electricity. The team provided strategic recommendations to SELF regarding end-user financing, logistical concerns, establishing distribution and sales networks, after sales maintenance, product selection, and long-term project sustainability. To achieve this goal, the team leveraged extensive primary and secondary research of existing solar lantern operations around the world, and conducted a socio-economic survey in a rural Haitian village.   

Skills/Expertise Needed: 

Desirable skills:

  • Familiarity with or interest in social entrepreneurship strategies
  • Experience with impact investing (SfA provides catalytic finance to solar enterprises throughout the supply chain)
  • Knowledge of renewable energy systems (PV, island grids, etc.)
  • Experience working in rural areas of developing countries, particularly those lacking electricity
  • Strong and "creative" research skills (information can be difficult to obtain in rural areas)
Secondary Client Confirmed: 
SEAS Program Areas: 
Environmental Policy and Planning
Sustainable Systems
Professional Career Development Benefits: 
  • Experience working with Ashoka - one of the world's best known promoters of social entrepreneurship
  • Access to Solar for All's extensive network of international partners, including socially responsible investment firms (e.g. Bamboo Finance), foundations (e.g. Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation), and NGOs (e.g.  International Renewable Energy Agency).
  • Experience with renewable energy system technology
  • Direct involvement with social entrepreneurship strategies to improve access to electricity
Identify expected products/deliverables: 

Report(s) to Ashoka/Solar for All.

Contact full name: 
Xiaowen Lin
Job title: 
Senior Manager of Ashoka
State or Country: 
SEAS Faculty Advisor: 
Thomas Gladwin
Contact Phone: 
1 (202) 351-1227 (mobile)
Advisor Confirmed: 
Contact e-mail: 
Contact information: 
U-M faculty member
Our Organization has been an SNRE master's project client in a previous year
Master Students Involved in Project: 
  • Wan-Ning Chen, MS Environmental Policy and Planning/Sustainable Systems
  • Annelise Guedes Lemes, MS Sustainable Systems
  • Lukas Strickland, MS Sustainable Systems
  • Aditi Moorthy, MA Economics/MS Sustainable Systems
  • Yicong Zhu, MS Environmental Policy and Planning/Sustainable Systems 
Student Project Contact: Lukas Strickland;
Project Status: 
Past Project