How we connect emerging markets to off-grid solar in an ethical and sustainable way

As a sector, off-grid solar faces an uphill challenge in bringing modern energy to the communities that need it most. Find out how Spark’s business model prioritises ethical and sustainable growth to ensure there are bright days ahead for those still without light and power.

Affordability, reliability and financing are among the hurdles that companies must overcome to achieve impact and scale in often difficult markets. At Spark, we meet those challenges head-on by combining our teams’ strengths with our distribution partners’ local knowledge in countries all over the world. We’re not just a solar company, we’re ecosystem creators who want to cultivate and nurture the growth of successful companies in the off-grid solar sector who share our goal of universal energy access.

Impact is at the heart of our business model. That’s why we made our service and product offering modular, which means our customers never take on more than they need to or can afford. We don’t need to sell large solar home systems to first-time customers, because we have a product model that allows them to choose a power system that is the right size for them, start with a small product and then move up the energy ladder and add more appliances when their circumstances change.

Affordability is a founding pillar of our business model which takes into account the financial pressure that low-income customers face. To protect these customers we only work with local distribution companies operating on the ground in the communities they serve. We do not do distribution ourselves and we don’t plan to. We know that local companies have deeper market knowledge and know their customers’ ability to take on PAYGo solar systems far better than we do.

As a business partner, our expertise lies predominantly in developing technology and raising finance. This is the greatest strength we offer to the in-country distributors we work with. We know that our Spark Kits are a leading-edge, reliable product, and we combine this with securing very affordable access to finance for our partners. This alleviates pressure in their operations and allows them to focus on their strengths as a local distributor.

When we onboard new distribution partners we have a diligent process to ensure best practices are followed throughout our partnership. We work to understand their sales process and vet their credit checking policies, which although ultimately in their hands, is guided by our financing expertise. Today, low-income PAYGo customers have more financing options from a wider selection of providers than ever before. This creates healthy market competition to provide the best customer experience at the most affordable price point.

Our dedication to sustainable, long-term and impact goes beyond great products and affordable financing. Along with our Spark Kits and Spark Invest, we also offer our Spark Support and Spark Portal services which are designed to up-skill and train local business partners’ in-country staff and provide excellent after sales support. We’re focused on building supportive relationships that ultimately serve customers and ensure they have the best product and service experience possible.

Spark is deeply committed to the sustainability of not only our business and partners’ business, but of PAYGo as a tool to combat energy poverty. We strive for long-term growth not short-term gains. This is reflected in every level of our company from day-to-day transactions to board-level decision making and thought leadership. Prominent members of our team have been directly involved in informing the PAYGo Perform KPIs, and as a company we adhere to industry body GOGLA’s Consumer Protection Principles.

Impact is embedded into our product, but we acknowledge that profitability is important too. We want to help our partners become profitable with the right model that serves them and their customer base.

The off-grid solar sector has reached 25-30 million people in less than a decade. But there are 700 million people who still don’t have electricity at home. At Spark, we’re working hand in hand with our partners to change that, to change energy for the better, for good and to ensure #BrightDaysAhead for our customers.