Katherine Lucey

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2012
Solar Sisters


This profile was prepared when Katherine Lucey was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2012.
The New Idea
Starting with solar lighting in Uganda, Katherine is tackling energy poverty in Africa by mobilizing women as key agents in accelerating the adoption of renewable energy and energy conservation solutions. Katherine is using a micro-consignment model to distribute these products, and in the process has launched a cadre of female micro-entrepreneurs, improved health, reduced household expenses, and made rural women comfortable with technology and the importance of reducing carbon emissions.

Katherine’s key insight is that it is women that influence or make decisions regarding the type of energy solutions to be used for lighting, cooking, and heating at the household level in rural areas. Additionally, she observed that women are tasked with the responsibility of maintaining the solutions after they have been installed (for example, dusting solar panels). Thus, it made sense to her to recast this as a gender issue, and focus on empowering women to take the lead role in tackling energy poverty in rural areas. Katherine is targeting women as the exclusive distributors and consumers in this market, thereby shifting market dynamics and putting women at the center of a previously male-dominated space. By leveraging their decision-making and social networking power, Katherine is unlocking the untapped potential for women to drive change in the rural energy space.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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