Stimulating competition, diversification, or re-enforcing entrepreneurial barriers? Exploring small-scale electricity systems and gender-inclusive entrepreneurship
Journal article, 2022

This article provides empirical contributions to our understanding of how small-scale renewable electricity systems (RES) can generate gender-equal opportunities for entrepreneurship in sub-Saharan Africa. This ties with our recent enquiry into the gender-electricity-entrepreneurship nexus (Osunmuyiwa & Ahlborg, 2019). Conceptually, we apply our recently developed Gender and Socially Inclusive Electricity for Entrepreneurship framework to explore the degree to which small businesses are growing or changing their production processes through access to RES and the gendered dimensions of these processes. This approach allows us to first; unpack how entrepreneurs in local spaces interact with RES and how this stimulates entrepreneurial opportunities and enables small businesses to develop new product or service offerings. Second, examine how RES reliance on existing socio-political systems and institutions might perpetuate socio-economic and gendered imbalances and affect entrepreneurial outcomes in case communities. We operationalise the analytical approach in a case study of small-scale RES in a rural district of Njombe, Tanzania. Our results reveal a boost in entrepreneurial activities. However, we found gendered differences in the capacity to initiate and sustain new product or service offerings. Similarly, while access to RES affected entrepreneurs' perception about social status by spurring significant changes in views around female business ownership, most women remained in low-growth enterprises due to existing socio-economic and power imbalances. We conclude by providing critical reflections for policy and developmental organisations aiming to deploy RES to promote inclusive electricity use for entrepreneurship in low-income communities.

Electricity access

Gender and entrepreneurship

Women's empowerment

Gender and energy


Olufolahan Osunmuyiwa

Institute for Management of Innovation and Technology (IMIT)

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Environmental Systems Analysis

Helene Ahlborg

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Environmental Systems Analysis

Energy Research and Social Science

22146296 (ISSN)

Vol. 89 102566

Subject Categories

Gender Studies

Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

Business Administration



More information

Latest update