ABSTRACT

I first came across the concept of microfranchising in early 2007, when we were just starting SolarAid, the UK’s first non-profit organisation to focus exclusively on solar power for developing countries. For the previous few months, we had been struggling with finding a model of micro-enterprise that could realistically be replicated on a large scale in order to wipe out the use of kerosene in Africa through the sustainable distribution of solar lamps. John Keane, SolarAid’s new head of programmes, had extensive experience of setting up solar micro-enterprises with community groups across Africa—something he had been doing for years. But his experience, and that of SolarAid’s first projects, was that reaching scale was difficult without a clear business model and a well-defined way of identifying, training and supporting entrepreneurs.