Reaching Scale in Access to Energy


Hystra, the Practitioner Hub for Inclusive Business, the Inclusive Business Action Network (iBAN)
Published on
September 2017
2 videos; 58 minutes each

Key Learnings

  • What is important for the success of solar companies at the base of the pyramid?
  • What can we learn from the early successes of solar lantern distributors?
  • Will Pay-as-you-Go be the 'silver bullet' of solar systems?
  • What are the biggest issues in financing the growth of access to energy businesses?
  • The landscape of energy access projects


While energy access has increased as a proportion of the population, in absolute numbers there are still almost as many households without access as there were 8 years ago. More than one billion people still do not have access to electricity, with most of them living in remote rural areas. With the tremendous momentum observed in the energy access space over the recent years, why have solar energy companies only been able to serve a fraction of the off-grid population?

In this two-part webinar series, Hystra, in partnership with the Practitioner Hub for Inclusive Business and the Inclusive Business Action Network (iBAN), drew on learnings from over 26 pioneering practitioners to explore how to overcome the two critical challenges to the replication of off-grid solar energy companies: distributing in frontier markets, and scaling up financing.

This webinar series is relevant for you if...

The webinar discusses external challenges that companies face in developing, sustaining and scaling successful inclusive business models and what approaches they use to overcome the barriers leading to commercial success and development outcomes.


Webinar 1: Entering the next frontier markets - Overcoming challenges for solar success beyond peri-urban areas of East Africa and India

The webinar explores solutions for distributors of solar lanterns and home systems to scale up beyond the peri-urban markets of East Africa and India. With inputs from solar company Lumos and experience from USAID, Hystra shared lessons drawn from the observation of pioneering models. These range from rural areas, where margins on entry-level products are too low to pay for sales agents, and where consumer reassurance and quality of service are critical, to emerging markets with less favourable regulatory environments (e.g. lower solar awareness, higher landed costs, absence of mobile money, lower income levels), where alternative distribution models are needed.


Duration: 58 min


  • François Lepicard, Network Partner at Hystra
  • Ron Margalit, Principal, Blended and Impact Investments at Lumos
  • Maurice Kent, from the USAID Global Development Lab
  • Markus Dietrich, from the Inclusive Business Action Network (Moderation)

Download QnA: Panellists' answers to your questions

Webinar 2: Scaling up financing - Innovative structured financing for solar companies

Solar companies cite financing as the primary bottleneck of their growth. While the equity space is crowded, the need for working capital debt will likely keep growing with the entry of new players, the acceleration of leaders, and replication in new countries. With under-developed local capital markets, solar companies struggle to cover currency and duration risk. The securitization of future payment streams is being increasingly considered, with little experimentation. Given the size of solar companies, a multi-issuer, subprime-type vehicle could be a solution. In this webinar, Hystra will share findings on innovative structured financing in this space and guest panelists will share their experiences of finance models on the ground.


Duration: 58 min


  • François Lepicard, Network Partner at Hystra
  • Piyush Mathur, CEO of Simpa Networks
  • Molly Doyle, from USAID Scaling Off-Grid Energy
  • Markus Dietrich, from the Inclusive Business Action Network (Moderation)

Download QnA: Panellists' answers to your questions

External resources mentioned in the webinar: