Solar-Sister-logoAishwarya Bhadouria, August Granath and Marie Michl’s experience in the Global Social Entrepreneurship first year honors inquiry seminar. 

The Global Social Entrepreneurship course introduced incoming Freshman Honors students to the concept and importance of social enterprise and promptly put them to work thinking about how they can make the world a better place. We read several case studies of successful and unsuccessful social enterprises while learning about the methods used in the field and the techniques used to evaluate enterprises. In order to select a social enterprise to receive funding from SEI, each student wrote a research paper on an organization, presented their findings, and voted as a class on which organization would be benefitted the most by $10,000.

 We voted based on how strong each organization’s cause, business model, and impact was based on what we had learnt in the classroom. Our class selected Solar Sister, whose mission is to eradicate challenges surrounding energy by empowering women with economic opportunity. Solar Sister’s target region is rural sub- Saharan Africa, specifically Uganda, Rwanda, and South Sudan, where more than 589 million people fight to survive living on less than $2/day, without access to reliable and safe electricity. Solar Sister provides female entrepreneurs with an inventory of solar products and the training and support necessary to be successful salespeople. These women are the last but most important step in bridging the gap between rural areas and access to reliable and safe energy. Solar Sister is largely successful because of its community based foundation and its direct involvement with female entrepreneurs.

After the competition, we spoke with Katherine Lucy, the CEO of Solar Sister. We are planning to meet with her in the future and hope to connect SEI and Solar Sister by completing a case study on the organization and ultimately, establish a strong co- op position within the Solar Sister team. The $10,000 grant will go towards buying lamps and on-the-ground support for entrepreneurs.

As freshmen with little social enterprise experience beyond the Fall Semester, it was intimidating to pitch to investors and such prestigious judges alongside upperclassmen students. Thankfully, it turned out to be incredibly rewarding. It was exciting to see that as first semester freshmen we had the ability to represent Solar Sister, communicate their mission, and now contribute to their impact by connecting them to funding that can fuel their social mission. We are looking forward to creating a longstanding relationship with Solar Sister and growing our Social Enterprise knowledge as time goes on.


Categories: News