Solar Sister data shows that mobility, specifically access to motorbikes, is a major factor for success among Solar Sister entrepreneurs serving last mile communities.
Mobility is most relevant when it comes to the ability to access a motorbike, known as boda boda in Tanzania or okada in Nigeria. Comparing our sales data to transport access, Solar Sister finds that entrepreneurs with access to a motorbike for their businesses outperform all other entrepreneurs, even those with access to a private car or bicycle. These entrepreneurs average 60% higher total sales than entrepreneurs using other forms of transport.
Motorbikes give entrepreneurs the ability to expand their solar and clean cooking businesses by going further than other forms of transportation, especially in rural communities. Motorbikes also become critical when entrepreneurs saturate local markets and need to expand their consumer base.
Cars, however, did not have a significant impact on entrepreneur sales. This may be because entrepreneurs using cars are at a higher income level and participating in Solar Sister’s business opportunity isn’t as critical to them or is a side-activity rather than a necessary livelihood. It may also be because in some rural landscapes, motorbikes are more suited to poor roads or off-road tracks.
The lesson for those catering to last mile communities is to assess what targeted support, beyond access to products and training, can support entrepreneurs in challenging local contexts.
Last Mile Learning is a monthly blog series by Grants and Impact Manager, Abby Mackey. This series shares our experiences, data and learning from our work with women-run renewable energy businesses in Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda.