Why Philanthropy Should Shift its Focus to Scalable Non-Profit Models

Dotted across rural Uganda are countless former pay-as-you-go (PAYG) electricity shops, now overpainted with signs for other businesses that have moved in to take their place after non-dilutive grant funding dried up. They are a clear signal of the failure of Western-based market-led approaches to increase energy access in the last mile, both in Uganda and across the African continent.

But why did this occur? And what does this say about philanthropy and government’s focus on funding private businesses to solve stubbornly low energy access rates?

The crux of the issue lies in the fact that the last-mile population cannot afford clean energy at their current income levels. 

The solutions to this problem are not groundbreaking innovations, but a proven and obvious approach: linking livelihood creation with energy sales.