Great Data = Great Responsibility

November 27, 2018

Data is everywhere. As we seek to ensure positive impact, we are collecting more data from people in the communities where we work. The challenge is how to collect and use this data ethically and responsibly.

Social enterprises should keep in mind the people component of the triple bottom line (people, profit, planet) and this includes any data collected on them. Solar Sister has recently launched a new Ethical Data Guidelines to address this challenge.

Ethical data

Solar Sister’s entire data tracking platform is now online, which has substantially expanded the data we we collect on the entrepreneurs in our network. However, we know that with collecting more data comes more responsibility. While we strive to continue to be data driven and data transparent, we also know that is critical to protect the privacy of our entrepreneurs and anyone else from whom we collect data. Therefore, Solar Sister has developed this guide to outline how we are employing data protection policies, taking best practices from around the world including Europe’s recent passage of the General Protection Data Regulation (GDPR).

The guidelines are built on three core values:

  1. Entrepreneurs First: Data policies will prioritize the needs of entrepreneurs above all else and never put them at risk. Anyone we collect data from is treated with dignity, respect and transparency.
  2. An Informed Team: Data integrity is everyone’s responsibility and every staff member is trained on data policies and ethics.
  3. Quality over Quantity: Solar Sister deliberately limits the amount of personal data we collect from entrepreneurs to reduce risk and burden on entrepreneurs.


Graphic showing key ethics of data management


Transparent and accessible

The guidelines also cover specific policies regarding legal compliance, data integrity, collection and informed consent, external sharing and publication, and data storage and access. For example, Solar Sister has instituted a policy modeled off of the GDPR which provides entrepreneurs the right to data access. If entrepreneurs, or anyone from whom we collect information, want to see what data Solar Sister has collected on them, this request will be fulfilled within 72 hours.

Right to privacy and protection

We believe that everyone should enjoy ethical treatment and high standards in how their data is treated and protected, no matter where they live. We believe everyone has the right to have their privacy protected, their data used ethically, and to always have the ability to freely give or withdraw consent when it comes to data collection. This is a critical component of conducting business responsibly and our policies will also apply to any Solar Sister partner, manufacturer, donor or investor. 

Read guidelines here