SolarAid and ElleSolaire announce new partnership

Patrick Bentley/SolarAid

This blog shines a light on the partnership between GDC members SolarAid and ElleSolaire as they seek to increase the accessibility of energy through a women-led last mile distribution model.




We are excited to see another fantastic example of collaboration between last mile distribution companies, following the success of the merger between Pollinate Energy and Empower Generation, and the partnership between Vitalite Zambia and Vitalite Senegal (formerly Sen Energie).

After several years of informal collaboration, SolarAid and ElleSolaire have officially partnered to deliver access to clean energy in Senegal’s rural communities through women entrepreneurs.

SolarAid undertook work in Senegal in 2013/14 but did not have the financial resources to establish a permanent presence in the country. So they took a unique approach and instead decided to support an emerging last mile distribution company, ElleSolaire. ElleSolaire undertook a six month pilot study that involved recruiting local women from remote villages and providing them with training and support in sales, marketing and financial management. By the end of the pilot, over 3,500 people had access to affordable electricity for the first time, 545 women were generating incremental income and dozens of women had become businesswomen in their own right.

SolarAid were impressed with the progress of the pilot and both parties recognised the similarities between the organisations, both in terms of business model (with SolarAid’s work in Malawi) and in vision and mission.

Under the terms of the partnership, SolarAid will provide ElleSolaire with the following support:

  • a small level of financial support, to help ElleSolaire grow their operations and further develop their distribution model
  • access to working capital (an interest free loan) to facilitate inventory management
  • access to Solar Aid’s expertise and learnings, through regular calls both at a management and operational level, and through access to internal policies and training and marketing content.

In return, ElleSolaire is building on its pilot to develop a new women-led last mile distribution model, and is enabling SolarAid to actively contribute to the new Powering Jobs initiative led by Power4All.

According to John Keane, CEO at SolarAid, this partnership is important for the following reasons:

“SDG7 is bigger than all of us and we are opening ourselves to partnerships in order to reach more people. This is about being mission led. We are thrilled to be, once again, having an impact in Senegal. In a country with six million people living without electricity, women will play an important role in bringing clean energy to families living where traditional distribution channels do not exist. We hope that our partnership with ElleSolaire will help reach over 7,000 people in the coming year.

SunnyMoney has sold approaching 2 million solar lights across last mile Africa – we have learned a lot in the process. We therefore want others to learn from our mistakes and benefit from our expertise. Open sourcing what we do is now a key way in which we can add value to the sector. We are now sharing all our models and work and also hope that in some cases this will lead to new partnerships.

We hope that this new partnership will encourage others to support our partnership with Elle Solaire and the last mile work we are both committed to. Together, we will work to address gender inequality and provide access to clean energy to those who need it most.”

For more information contact John at

Photo credit: ElleSolaire