Academic journals for high school students

Academic journals

Introducing academic journals for high school students

Let There Be Light: The Promise of Social Entrepreneurship in Bringing Electricity to Sub-Saharan Africa

Ryan Cho
Choate Rosemary Hall


The earth’s natural resources — clean water, fertile soil, and energy — are vital to ensuring human life on earth. For many environmentalists, like Tim Jackson, the core of the environmental crisis currently faced is the over-consumption of earth’s available resources, namely energy resources (Jackson, 2011). There is data behind this argument. In 2009, humans were extracting and utilizing 30 percent more natural resources than they were 30 years prior (Friends of the Earth Europe; Sustainable Europe Research Institute (SERI), 2009). Consumption of the earth’s natural resources is leading to species extinction, shrinking water resources, deforestation, and of course the warmer temperatures closely associated with climate change.

It is clear that a switch to carbon-neutral, sustainable and clean energy is the key to protecting all life on earth. However, deploying a global switch to clean energy at both the macro- and micro-level is not as easy as planned. One emerging commercial actor could be of help: social enterprise. Social enterprise could provide unique contributions to the development of clean and renewable energy projects by reaching areas that traditional private and public sector organizations cannot or will not touch and providing scalability that allows sustainable growth.

The following paper will demonstrate the role and power of social enterprise in the clean energy movement by exploring the work being in done in rural Burundi by social enterprise among bottom of pyramid (BoP) communities as compared to the progress made by the national energy plan. In essence, while public or private organizations may do well to engage in energy programs in urban areas or wealthy nations, those models either do not impact or struggle to find sustainable impact in bottom-of-pyramid communities. Social enterprise, however, can create communal energy schemes that not only have the ability to enter into informal areas but to create sustainable change there as a means of connecting those without electricity access while they wait for national infrastructure to be built.

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