Ref: IMD-7-2114

Case study

Reference: IMD-7-2114

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Angaza: A Silicon Valley journey

Vanina Farber

By Professor Vanina FarberVanina Farber and Shih-Han Huang

Angaza’s story is not a typical solar light story, but the story of a female social entrepreneur with a for-profit Silicon Valley mindset, transforming a social enterprise from a hardware to a software business model. It is about pivots, changing value propositions, new products and business models as Angaza evolves to escalate social impact while still making money.

Angaza began as a solar-light company founded in 2010 by Stanford graduate Lesley Silverthorn Marincola to address energy poverty in rural off-grid communities. In her quest to address affordability, Lesley realized that the main problem confronting rural off-grid communities was not the price of solar lights per se, but finding a way to spread payments over time.

In 2012, Angaza pivoted from being a solar-light producer to a software provider offering pay-as-you-go (PAYG) metering and monitoring technology to players in the solar-light ecosystem – manufacturers, distributors and mobile network operators. The PAYG technology allowed end consumers to buy solar-light products by paying small amounts over time, eventually owning them outright.

At the end of the case, students are confronted with a very real dilemma facing the founder and leadership team of many start-ups, including Angaza – what are the next opportunities for the company? Is it further scaling (if so, scaling up or deep), a pivot (into data), or an exit (sell the business)?

Learning Objective

  1. Identify features of business models used by a for-profit social business
  2. Analyze differences between the growth potential of hardware vs. software value propositions
  3. Recognize the growth tensions and dilemmas of a for-profit social business
  4. Identify key factors that enable a for-profit social business to scale
  5. Compare and contrast various growth strategies (scaling up, scaling deep, pivot value proposition and exit) and identify their inherent risks and opportunities
KeywordsSocial Innovation
SettingsAmerica, Global, Northern Africa, United States of America
Consumer Goods, Computers, Information Technology
TypeField Research
Related materialTeaching note, Video
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Reference: IMD-7-2114

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Case study

Reference: IMD-7-2114

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