18 "Centros Luz en Casa" sell and maintain electrical equipment designed specifically for isolated off-grid locations. This picture shows the center in Campo Alegre. Photo: Acciona Microenergia


Enlightening Entrepreneurship

By Julio Eisman, Acciona
02:41 PM, September 12, 2017

Created in 2008, the ACCIONA Microenergia Foundation has mainly focused on providing electricity to 11,500 households in isolated rural communities in Mexico and Peru that have no prospect of being served by the conventional distribution grid. It does this by arranging economically sustainable programs centered around “social microenterprises” that use solar home systems to provide a basic electricity supply that is affordable for very-low-income users.

Under the social microenterprise approach, users receive electricity from a solar home system, making it affordable in relation to their incomes.The goal is for the electricity supply system to be sustainable on a free-standing basis by reinvesting economic surpluses.

The Foundation has been working in Peru since 2009 and in Mexico since 2012. Work in Peru is concentrated in the Cajamarca region, where electricity is supplied to close to 4,000 homes as well as community buildings (schools, churches, health centers, and other community centers).

In addition, a pilot project is being developed now in the Loreto region in order to test a new electricity delivery model for Amazonian communities. In Mexico, it has implemented the “Luz en Casa Oaxaca” program through a public - private partnership for development with the Oaxaca government, the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), and its Mexican counterpart, thereby bringing electricity to more than 7,500 families.

The Foundation is the ACCIONA Group’s vehicle to channel cooperation initiatives to provide underserved communities with access to basic services. ACCIONA is a Spanish leader in implementing renewable energy and social infrastructure as well as water management. It falls under the scope of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which include ensuring “access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.”

Booth of the Centros Luz en Casa at the market of Namora. Photo: Acciona Microenergia
Booth of the Centros Luz en Casa at the market of Namora. Photo: Acciona Microenergia

“Centros Luz en Casa”

The ACCIONA Microenergia Foundation has already trained more than 40 entrepreneurs and promoted 18 “Centros Luz en Casa” as microenterprises to sell and maintain electrical equipment designed specifically for isolated off-grid locations. 

In line with its search for formulas for environmentally sustainable economic cooperation, the ACCIONA Microenergia Foundation has developed a model for promoting local entrepreneurship based on setting up franchises devoted to maintenance services and the sale of energy-efficient electric appliances in isolated rural communities in Cajamarca (Peru) and Oaxaca (Mexico). The “Centros Luz en Casa” serve 11,500 homes, to which the Foundation provided access to electricity for the first time through solar home systems in villages with no grid connections. 

These inclusive businesses operate as micro-franchises, which are managed by local entrepreneurs. ACCIONA Microenergia acts as franchisor, providing technical and business training to the entrepreneurs and supplying equipment to enable them to sell small electrical appliances and provide repair and maintenance services. The items for sale are vetted and tested beforehand to ensure a high degree of energy efficiency, good quality, and an affordable price. 

This network of entrepreneurs completes the Foundation’s vision of “acting at the base of the pyramid, generating development by enhancing living standards through access to electricity, and by dynamizing local economies,” says Julio Eisman, Director of the ACCIONA Microenergia Foundation. 

In order to ensure access to electricity, the “Centros Luz en Casa” handle maintenance of the solar home systems supplied by the Foundation and offer additional applications for electricity by providing equipment and appliances adapted to users’ needs and the system’s capacity. From a social standpoint, these centers help to create jobs and generate a local business fabric, with professionals trained by the Foundation to manage businesses in an economically sustainable manner. 

This initiative was first implemented in Peru through a project developed together with the Technical University of Madrid and the ICAI Engineers for Development Foundation. It was cofinanced by AECID through a competition for innovative ideas and is currently being rolled out in Mexico. To date, the ACCIONA Microenergia Foundation has trained about 40 users working at the 18 “Centros Luz en Casa” in operation at present: 12 in Peru and the remainder in Mexico.

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Eisman, Julio
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