Manuel Wiechers Banuet

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2013


This profile was prepared when Manuel Wiechers Banuet was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2013.
The New Idea
Manuel founded Iluméxico with the objective of eradicating energy poverty in Mexico. Iluméxico uses a mix of community development activities and close monitoring to implement clean technology solar panels, supplemented by strategic alliances with key actors in the sector. Iluméxico’s rural electrification model is the first and only in Mexico that maintains community benefit in each step of the value chain, from technology development, installation, maintenance, and adaptation of the system. This results in a transverse process of community development. Moreover, unlike traditional organizations, Iluméxico requires benefitting communities to contribute a nominal fee for the service, giving them a stake in the project that has proven to increase the adoption and care of their systems. The generated profits are then reinvested in a fund that is used for community development projects for the very residents. The continuity of Iluméxico’s model does what no other Mexican rural electrification program does; it converts community members into beneficiaries and stakeholders, resulting in a more cohesive community that accepts, and cares for, their electrical technology.

Additionally, Manuel has taken his model a step further by providing social and technological workshops on topics such as sustainability, community empowerment, gender equality, social control, and production groups to the communities they electrify. These help ensure long-term adoption and integration into daily life.

Crucial stakeholders assure the sustainability of Iluméxico, including partnerships with the private sector to mobilize resources, and other citizen organizations (COs) that help develop Iluméxico’s community development activities. Iluméxico also works closely with local and federal governments to identify the needs of rural communities. This has even resulted in the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) beginning to develop regulations on technical procedures for social and technological transfer programs for highly-disadvantaged populations of Mexico to ensure the safety and wellbeing of these communities.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person


They are currently working to create ILU-Centers, customer service/help desks in key municipal locations for access to personalized assistance, spare parts and other services such as battery charging. This is made possible through the sale of the Maintenance Plan which users renew each year for access to these services; if this remains active after 3 or 4 years then they receive a free replacement battery, which would ease family expenses. This scheme ensures provision of the best assistance for users.

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