Lack of energy access afflicts approximately 2.6 billion people globally: one-third of the human population of the planet. The problem affects individuals, households, communities, local institutions, and small and medium-sized businesses across the developing world.

Defining acceptable energy access has traditionally been expressed as an energy ladder, a hierarchy of energy uses ranging from basic lighting and cooking needs “up” to things like running a sewing machine or powering small tools. Rather than this linear progression, however, we prefer the more holistic Total Energy Access (TEA) standards developed by international non-governmental organization, Practical Action, which focus on “customers” of energy rather than “people without energy.”

Despite billions of development and charity dollars spent on energy access by government aid agencies, foundations, and corporations, we still lack a viable scenario for offering everyone the energy they need to survive and thrive.

Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship believes that solving the problem of energy access starts with reframing the problem. When the problem is reframed, it becomes possible to envision and enact more viable solutions.

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