By the Numbers: why our impact numbers are changing 

October 15, 2019

Solar Sister has always been committed to data-driven strategy and action. Now we’ve improved our measures even more. Read on to find out how.  

From early on, Solar Sister invested in customer management databases such as Salesforce and Taroworks to track our impact and reach.  We continue to bring that culture into our every day: continually analyzing our data and improving our surveys to improve the services we provide our entrepreneurs, grow our impact, and help communities thrive.  

Industry standards 

As a proud member of GOGLA (the global association for the off-grid solar energy industry), Solar Sister was excited to get our hands on their 2018 Standardized Impact Metrics for the Off-Grid Solar Industry Sector.    

We have now gone through all of our impact data and recalculated how we measure using GOGLA industry standards. The GOGLA framework covers a range of off-grid solar technologies, from solar lights to solar home systems, and explores several key areas: energy access, economic activity, income generation, kerosene replacement & CO2e reduction, light availability and quality, energy spending and financial inclusion. 

GOGLA calculations

Changing numbers, same impact  

You will see our impact numbers have changed and in some instances have even declined. These new numbers are a more accurate measure of our work because we now include a variety of key influencing factors into our calculations.  

Two such influencing factors are discount rates and product lifespan

We now apply discount rates to account for products not in use (because of breakage or other reasons) and for repeat sales to the same customer. In order to account for lack of use, we now apply a 3% discount rate to the number of solar lamps sold. In order to avoid double-counting beneficiaries, our new impact calculations also apply a 10% discount rate for repeat sales of solar lamps. 

We also now include product lifespan that accounts for the limited life of a product. GOGLA calculates product lifespan as 1.5 years multiplied by the product warranty period. The majority of our solar products have a 2-year warranty, so the product lifespan is calculated to be 3 years. 

Any measurements considering only current impact now consider only solar products sold within the last three years. On the other hand, the number of products sold since Solar Sister launched in 2010 are included in our cumulative impact measurements. 

By including new factors, such as discount rates and product lifespan, our calculations now more accurately reflect the behaviours of our end-users and the realities on the ground in the communities where we work. 

When several organizations use different metrics, there’s a good chance we would soon compare apples to oranges.

Apples to Apples 

GOGLA’s Outreach and Impact manager, Dr. Eveline Jansen, says applying standardized metrics is essential for the growth of the off-grid solar sector as a whole. 

Every company and every investor wants to know what impact they are having. However, when several organizations use different metrics, there’s a good chance we would soon compare apples to oranges.” 

In response, GOGLA worked with companies to develop standardized impact metrics for the off-grid solar sector. 

“This approach allows the sector to credibly estimate and monitor its impact, helping to streamline reporting, attract investment and catalyse regulatory support.”

As a small but impactful operation in the world of clean energy and women empowerment, Solar Sister is proud to always be improving the accuracy of our data and the usefulness of our assumptions. Thank you to GOGLA for creating an industry standard measure to support us in these efforts. 

Look at our latest impact numbers here.