Gender and Entrepreneurship in the Renewable Energy Sector of Rwanda

Discussion Paper
16 February 2020

Manuel Barron, Rowan Philip Clarke, Amanda B. Elam, Rebecca A. Klege, Anita Shankar, Martine Visser

Until recently, women have not been seen as having the potential for entrepreneurial success. Yet women’s engagement in the energy sector could substantially improve energy access for those most underserved. This article examines the role of women as energy entrepreneurs from the perspective of gender inequality within the energy industry. Data from Nuru Energy, a social business focused on providing solar lighting to the ultra‑poor, provide insights on how the inclusion of women sales agents can increase sales and how strategic modifications to the social business model can further support female-led businesses. Observational data from over 1,000 rural enterprises show that women, on average, sold significantly more units than men. Women operating in solo firms and leading group-based teams consistently outsold men-led solo and group‑based enterprises. Findings further suggest that, when operating in groups, women tend to outperform men even more than when operating sole proprietorships.


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Publication reference
Barron, M., Philip Clarke, R., B. Elam, A., A. Klege, R., Shankar, A., & Visser, M. (2020). Gender and Entrepreneurship in the Renewable Energy Sector of Rwanda. IDS Bulletin, 51(1). doi:10.19088/1968-2020.105
Publication | 17 March 2021