Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University
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Abstract Details

What about the entrepreneur? How business models drive and hinder the development of self-sustaining local energy access ventures in Rwanda
Vol. Volume 19, Number 3 September/2014

Ingrid Wakkee, Rahul Barua, Pieter Beukering
The energy access landscape has recently undergone a radical transformation. International donors and national governments increasingly seek to implement market-based programs, while there is heightened interest in Base of the Pyramid energy opportunities from an expanding impact-oriented private sector. The central assumption of such programs is that the provision of resources to local entrepreneurs and the business environments they operate in will lead to the emergence of self-sustaining enterprises that continue to commercialize a specific energy product or service. We aim to test this assumption by applying a business model approach to analyze how participation in a donor-supported market development program affects the development of local energy access ventures. We evaluate the role of local entrepreneurs in this process. Our empirical focus is a domestic biogas market development program implemented in Rwanda between 2007 and 2012. We conclude that, while providing a detailed framework to operate in regarding technological choices, dissemination methods, and financing opportunities, the energy access business model actually provides the entrepreneurs little possibilities to act entrepreneurial and exploit local opportunities. Consequently, such programs may typically attract necessity driven entrepreneurs rather than opportunity and growth driven entrepreneurs causing further worries about the sustainability of the business.

Keywords: Business model, public-private-partnership, rural energy access, social entrepreneurship, bio-gas