Powerhive Backs New Micro-Enterprises in Kenya

by Rik
March 9, 2015

Supplied with electricity from a Powerhive microgrid, this posho mill runs for 5 hours on any given day.


Powerhive recently backed several new micro-enterprises as part of a pilot program designed to support increased economic activity in communities that are powered by our microgrids. Of the new businesses, more than half are owned by women.

In response to strong demand for grain milling services, butcheries, chicken hatcheries, beauty salons, and an ice cream parlor, we provided financing for entrepreneurs to start these businesses, and we are offering ongoing training in bookkeeping, financial literacy, and business operations. “One of the most important ways to ensure the sustainability of these businesses is to provide access to high quality training,” said Obadiah Onsongo, who is leading the project. “Fortunately, the entrepreneurs we’re working with are quick learners and eager to develop their business skills.”

The goal of the pilot program is twofold:

Understand which businesses, enabled by the availability of AC electricity, are viable in the context of these rural villages.
An important criterion of viability is whether entrepreneurs can earn a decent income through the businesses. One specific research goal is to understand how performance of the businesses that add value to necessary goods, such as posho milling services, compares with those that provide discretionary services, such as beauty salons.

Develop best practices to support the businesses and scale the program regionally.
Key aspects include designing a market research methodology that can be used to accurately gauge market demand in each village, learning how to identify ambitious local entrepreneurs who will be reliable business owners, and capacity-building with regional partners to develop business training and financing programs. The success of this micro-enterprise program will partially depend on strategic partnerships, and we are identifying microfinance institutions, banks, social enterprises, and other organizations that would be suitable partners for scaling the program.


One of two Powerhive-backed beauty salons.

An important metric of our success as a company is whether Powerhive contributes to improved living standards. By supporting local businesses, we aim to augment the social impact of electricity access through increased economic activity in the villages we serve.

Although it’s still too soon to determine whether this particular strategy will succeed, initial results are promising.