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, and 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, until they eventually owned 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)?
- Identify features of business models used by a for-profit social business
- Analyse differences between the growth potential of hardware vs. software value propositions
- Recognize the growth tensions and dilemmas of a for-profit social business