Solar Sister


Scaling Through Partnerships. A strategy manual that provides an in-depth analysis of Solar Sister’s current approach to partnering, highlights opportunities for improvement, and offers solutions and recommendations. This manual explains the benefits of partnerships which include higher levels of recruitment, increased accountability on both sides, and improved connectivity among staff. Our recommendations include several key tools such as a partnership selection checklist, key performance indicators (KPIs) for partnerships, a responsibility assignment matrix, and organization chart and employee table. The solutions that we prescribe will add strategic value to Solar Sister by improving shared responsibility, trust, and value exchange. Ultimately, the manual will guide Solar Sister toward a more effective and replicable model for partnering, scaling its impact.

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Partnership Training Module. A training module added to the existing curriculum for onboarding new Solar Sister Business Development Associates (BDAs). This module will provide BDAs with the tools necessary to identify, cultivate, and maintain successful partnerships. It contains seven key learning objectives and three main lessons which include partnership strategy, value exchange, and management.

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Solar Sister envisions a brighter world powered by women entrepreneurs.


Prescribe better partnering habits with NGOs and religious groups to improve the effectiveness of entrepreneur recruitment, scaling impact in difficult-to-reach communities.

Research Activities

Solar Sister provides women economic opportunity and eliminates energy poverty in rural Tanzania. Over the course of eight weeks, we researched Solar Sister’s operations and partnerships with organizations providing services in rural geographies. We traveled to eight regions of Northeast Tanzania to interview nine partners, sixteen Solar Sister employees, and 56 Solar Sister Entrepreneurs (SSEs). Through this research we gained a thorough understanding of how Solar Sister partners with development organizations and Catholic Sisters as well as a holistic awareness of Solar Sister’s current capacity to meet its strategic scaling goals and recruit SSEs efficiently.

Key Findings:

    1. Entrepreneur recruitment is time and resource intensive. Solar Sister Business Development Associates must travel to remote villages and make multiple visits in order to recruit their target of five new entrepreneurs per month.
    2. Internal incentives are required to establish and maintain partnerships. Attracting valuable entrepreneur recruitment partners necessitates standardized roles and rewards for all Solar Sister employees.
    3. Successful partnerships help achieve Solar Sister’s strategic scaling goals. The best partners align strongly with Solar Sister’s mission, provide new markets, alleviate logistical challenges and foster a sense of community for Business Development Associates.

What the Entrepreneurs Are Saying

Having the fellows from the Global Social Benefit Fellowship come to spend time with our team doing action research has been an important part of our continuous learning approach to our work. The fellows approach the work with a fresh eye, and bring an objective view that allows us to have greater insights into what is working, and importantly, what is not working. I especially appreciate that the fellows embody the Miller Center values of accompaniment, excellence, and authenticity and that informs the relationship in such a meaningful and positive way.

Katherine Lucey, Founder and CEO, Solar Sister

Solar Sister Logo


Social Enterprise:
Solar Sister

Amanda Eason
Environmental Studies, Sociology

Emma Hokoda
Environmental Studies

Faculty Research Mentor:
Leslie Gray, Environmental Studies and Sciences