People first, power second
Our desired outcome in communities isn’t just access to renewable energy. It’s also access to the tools, skills, and systems to manage and grow that access in the future. Our Community Centred Model allows for just that.
This means that we work alongside each community to establish the local capacity via a formal management committee. Together, we also develop a tailor-made, integrated plan for positive economic and social change. This means climate-resilient agricultural training paired with a community’s new solar-powered water pumping system. It means financial literacy training alongside the construction of a new community microgrid to ensure proper growth of funds to expand and repair the system in the future.
The way we work is unique. Yes, renewable technologies are important for a sustainable earth; however, empowered people are critical to the longevity and effectiveness of those technologies.
Because of this, we aren’t only technology experts (although we have our share of skilled engineers on staff), we are also people experts. We strive to help communities create a network of active, engaged, and skilled citizens that make the most of their new renewable technologies. This is why we always pair renewable technologies with an integrated training programme. These training programmes often include technical training, financial and organisational management training, livelihood training (such as agriculture or business training), public health programming, and more.
Our approach was developed with academic partners and has been adapted through action-learning cycles over the last five years as a project implementing organisation. The award-winning Community Centred Model that we created is a structured framework and toolkit covering the stages of design, delivery, and maintenance of community renewable energy projects. Driven by our organisational values – sustainability, passion, enterprise, delivery, and teamwork – we work systematically to create long-lasting social change. To achieve this, we follow our Organisational Theory of Change, explained below.
Theory of Change
Catalyse initial change through clean energy-based innovations. Our first step in any project is to find the best ways to drive community-level innovation and enable social change using renewable energy. We ask communities about their needs and assess the resources available to them, planning their renewable energy systems to address their energy requirements whilst ensuring they will not deplete or redirect other communities’ resources. By piloting new technologies and business models in remote and challenging social settings, we deliver sustainable programmes capable of catalysing the development of some of the poorest communities.
Build partnerships to ensure community-centred transformation. We build resilient partnerships with stakeholders to create impact through the power of renewable energy. We include government, civil society organisations and non-governmental organisations who work across agriculture, education, water, and health themes.
Ensure equitable and just distribution of results through our Community Centred Model. We then work with community stakeholders to implement these systems and train them in good governance. The communities manage the energy systems themselves to increase crop yields and varieties, pursue education, and start and grow businesses. Better and more diverse income streams boost community-wide resilience to economic difficulties and help them prosper. This step-by-step process enables us to include all members of the community at each stage of a project, helping to promote community ownership and inclusive access to these services.
Achieve sustainability and drive future scale-up through evidence-based approaches. Finally, to achieve technical, financial and social sustainability, we are guided by our Sustainability Toolkit. The toolkit addresses sustainability issues when planning, designing, implementing, and evaluating projects. It ensures that:
The technology is accepted and valued by the community
All members of the community are involved in the design process and have access to the energy
Communities agree to a fair price for their water or energy and introduce affordable tariffs which they pay into a collective account for ongoing maintenance and repair
A governance structure is introduced that must be made up equally of men, women and young people
Community members have the financial and technical capacity to maintain the system and use the energy to start or upgrade small businesses and generate income
We share our results and key learning with governments, civil society and businesses to support other projects. Overall, this evidence-based approach tackles energy poverty and water scarcity using tailored and appropriate technology to achieve positive impacts on health, education, and livelihoods.