Off-Grid Energy



Off-Grid Energy


Power Sector




These tools for the off-grid energy sector can be used to explore gender opportunities, screen potential investments through a gender lens, and advise portfolio companies on how to better integrate gender into their operations and supply chains. Then follow the evidence to learn where gender matters most with the off-grid energy Gender Materiality Map.


Understand opportunities to better integrate gender in an off-grid energy company’s operations and supply chain


Complete a questionnaire about the target company to generate a personalized gender scorecard


Explore how leading off-grid energy companies integrate gender into their operations, and the resulting business and social benefits

Copyright: Hewlett (India)

Briefing: Gender & Off-Grid Energy

Globally, one billion individuals still lack access to modern electricity – nearly three billion people rely on wood, coal, charcoal, or animal waste for cooking and heating and more than one billion people living in the hottest climates are at risk of insufficient energy for cooling.

For people in locations where the electric grid remains unavailable, unreliable, or too expensive to connect, off-grid energy can provide viable power solutions.  Throughout the world, a growing number of companies are leveraging this business opportunity by designing, producing, selling, and distributing off-grid energy technologies – which span solar lights, solar home systems, mini-grids, and clean cooking solutions (including fuels and cookstoves). Companies in the off-grid energy sector have much to gain through taking a purposeful gender lens throughout their operations and supply chains.

For example, in most off-grid households across the globe, women are primarily responsible for the collection, cultivation, and use of energy resources. They spend many hours each day collecting fuel wood, cooking over an open flame, and engaging in manual labor. Given these gender roles, women are important consumers of off-grid technologies within households and enterprises. Lack of access to clean, efficient energy solutions also affects women the most. As the predominant household cooks globally, it is women who bear the time burden and negative health impacts of dangerous and inefficient cooking methods.

Such consumer insights indicate that clean cooking products should first and foremost be tailored to women’s needs, with marketing and after-sales efforts adapted to their preferences. Women also use and benefit from other off-grid energy technologies differently than men, such as solar lanterns and mini-grids. Many companies overlook the influence of women end-users if the majority of their sales are to men. Understanding how and why women benefit from off-grid energy technologies enables companies to unlock market insights and potential new customer segments. Marketing products specifically to women can capitalize on women’s spending power and household influence. It can also catalyze their economic empowerment through productive uses of off-grid technologies, such as energy-efficient cookstoves to prepare food for sale, and solar lighting that allows women to keep shops open later at night.

Various research highlights the link between greater diversity in leadership and on teams and financial performance as well as innovation. Beyond the general diversity dividend, there are key advantages to off-grid energy companies engaging women as staff members and entrepreneurs throughout the value chain:

  • Integrating a gender lens in design and research & development (R&D) can ensure that the needs of female and male customers are taken into consideration when designing products and services. This can ultimately increase sales, adoption, and customer satisfaction.
  • Engaging women to work in production and manufacturing of off-grid energy products can leverage women’s traditional skills in ceramics and other fields.
  • Gender-specific marketing, sales, and distribution can enable companies to better speak to and reach a diversity of consumers. Recruiting women can help companies access hard-to-reach households and utilize woman-to-woman marketing techniques. Women may be trusted promoters of products among their peers, and are frequently organized in networks that can access vast new market segments.
  • A gender lens in after-sales service helps companies ensure both female and male end-users remain satisfied and loyal customers. Female customer service representatives may be particularly valuable in communities with conservative norms of social contact that restrict interactions between men and women within the home.

Gender Materiality Map

To find out more about where gender is most material in the off-grid energy sector, explore our Gender Materiality Map.

Understand Gender Materiality

Social Impact Visual

To see the causal pathways through which gender integration in off-grid energy companies creates social impacts for women and communities, explore our Social Impact Visual.

Understand Social Impact



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