Powerlive Named 2021 Start Up Project of the Year

Empowerment through Feminist Electrification


An international jury of experts selected Powerlive Zimbabwe as the 2021 EEP Africa Start Up Project of the Year for its gender lens approach to energy access and success in a difficult market.

Powerlive is a local social enterprise selling scalable solar systems and appliances in rural and off-grid areas of Zimbabwe through a pay-as-you-go model. The company offers affordable products carefully selected to address the needs of low-income customers, with a focused goal on improving standards of living.

“Powerlive demonstrated notable success in the early stages of their business within a challenging market. Their strong gender impact throughout the value chain is very impressive.” said Aleksi Lumijärvi, Program Manager at the Nordic Development Fund and chair of the award jury.

Powerlive was awarded EEP Africa financing in 2019 to empower women in underserved communities through affordable energy access and income opportunities. The company distributes modular solar home systems and productive use appliances through a network of rural women. With offices in Harare, Zvimba and Zvishavane, women comprise 75% of the head office staff, including the CEO, and 85% of the sales agents and technicians.

The relationship with customers begins with lighting, to improve health and study time, followed by water pumps to ensure safe, clean drinking water. Once these basic needs are met, customers are offered radios and televisions, to provide access to information, and a variety of appliances that can be used to increase income, such as hair clippers and refrigerators. Powerlive also provides financial literacy trainings, market linkages and mentorship to its women sales agents and clients.

During 2021, Powerlive overcame significant market disruptions in Zimbabwe stemming from Covid-19 lockdown measures. The company ensured its customers continued to receive top-tier energy access and service, providing 24/7 remote support to the communities in which it operates and intensifying online marketing efforts. Despite the difficult economic conditions, Powerlive managed to sell over 1,500 systems, with 7,500 beneficiaries, and open new markets in four districts. The company also survived the year without any retrenchments and secured USD 150,000 from the Energy Access Relief Fund.

“I would like to thank all the stakeholders who have been and continue to be with us throughout our journey. Namely, the people who now have access to solar energy and make this journey worthwhile `{`and`}` the Powerlive team for their continuous dedication and hard work,” said Sharon Yeti, CEO and founder of Powerlive. “Thank you EEP Africa for believing in us when no one else did and making this possible... Please continue to keep the light shining. This is not just a win for Powerlive, but for all of those who continue to make it possible for solar energy to be accessible and affordable.”

The Project of the Year award celebrates outstanding achievement by an EEP Africa portfolio company. This year the award was split into two categories – Start Up and Scale Up – in order to recognize both companies that are growing and on their way to broader impact as well as companies that are still in early stages but succeeding in innovating or opening the market. The jury named Jaza Energy as 2021 Start Up Project of the Year.

EEP Africa thanks all the 2021 Project of the Year nominees, finalists and jury members. Watch the recording of the award announcement (starting at 1:05:00) and learn about the recipients of EEP Africa’s 2021 Rising Energy Leader award.