Action Research 


Three Global Social Benefit Fellows, select junior undergraduate students at Santa Clara University, conducted research on social entrepreneurship and solar lighting technologies in Uganda with three GSBI enterprises in 2013: Solar Sister (GSBI 2011), Angaza Design (GSBI 2011), and (GSBI 2006). They investigated the social benefits accrued by Solar Sister micro-entrepreneurs and researched the feasibility of a new solar lighting product in the Uganda market.




Read Their Findings:





Solar Sister Deliverables

by Emily Albi, Katrina Van Gasse, and Kevin Kozel 


During a two month placement in Uganda with social enterprise, Solar Sister, the Global Social Benefit Fellows (GSBF) of Santa Clara University were able to compile qualitative and quantitative data that will improve Solar Sister’s knowledge of their customers and employees. The Fellows interviewed three customers and wrote short, medium, and long versions of their stories. They created profiles for seven entrepreneurs that were deemed qualified enough to receive Kiva loans. Lastly, the Fellows surveyed 50 Solar Sister Entrepreneurs and entered critical information into Solar Sister's database.  

The Fellows also took and compiled many photographs of Solar Sister site visits that will be transferred to Solar Sister online. Each customer story, Kiva profile, and database account entry has at least one photo attached to it. 

This document contains samples of all the media and information the Fellows collected for Solar Sister.


Market Evaluation: Viability of the SoLite3 in Uganda

by Emily Albi, Katrina Van Gasse, and Kevin Kozel  


The Fellows crafted this report as a deliverable to the Santa Clara University Global Social Benefit Fellows program, which placed three SCU junior undergraduate students in Uganda during the summer of 2013. 

Angaza Design, a social enterprise, commissioned this particular GSBF team to take five units of its newest products, including the SoLite3, to Uganda for pilot testing. In an act of collaboration, the products would be distributed by Solar Sister's expansive distribution channel. 

The purpose of this pilot was to evaluate whether Uganda is a viable market for the SoLite3.


Meet The Students:

Read their reflections on entrepreneurship to meet social needs in Africa





Emily Albi
Mechanical Engineering



Kevin Kozel
Mechanical Engineering



Katrina Van Gasse





The Project Plan


The Fellows evaluated the social and technical dynamics of introducing new solar products into developing markets. They also analyzed the benefits of  crowd sourcing with, which is an online lending platform for social entrepreneurs. The Fellows explored the synergies of's platform, Solar Sister’s distribution network, and Angaza Design’s innovative technology.



The Hosting Social Enterprises:  


Solar Sister logo         angaza        mv2gdy        Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 12


Solar Sister

The Fellows worked with  Solar Sister by traveling with Regional Coordinators to several locations throughout Uganda to meet with and interview Solar Sister Entrepreneurs. The information the Fellows gathered about each entrepreneur was given to the organization and specific data was entered into Solar Sister's databases. The Fellows attached a picture of each woman to their respective profiles. In addition to entrepreneur profiles, the Fellows met with three customers and created a short, medium, and long stories to capture critical qualitative information. These stories were presented to Solar Sister along with several pictures to augment Solar Sister's website and social medium pages. 


Angaza Design

The Fellows work with Angaza Design was centered on their new product, the SoLite3. They piloted the SoLite3 in the Ugandan market, using Solar Sister as a distribution channel. The SoLite3 is a unique product because of its Pay-As-You-Go functionality. After keeping careful notes on the progress of the pilot throughout the summer, the Fellows wrote a market evaluation report for Angaza Design. In their report, they recounted their experiences with the pilot project, the current state of mobile money permeation in Uganda, and recommendations for Angaza Design.



The Fellows traveled throughout Uganda with the Solar Sister Regional Coordinators and interviewed saleswomen that were identified as top sellers. The Fellows surveyed the top sellers with regards to their family, respective living situations, finances, and future goals. This information was written up as an official Kiva profile ready to be submitted to the Kiva website. In total, seven comprehensive profiles were written and given to Solar Sister.



Village Energy Connection


In addition to the Fellows work with Solar Sister, Kiva, and Angaza Design, they also worked with an electronics business based in Kampala, Uganda. Village Energy, the workplace of Fellows'  research mentor, Paola De Cecco, makes solar lights for Uganda’s most remote villages. 

Village Energy needed to make its enclosures more aesthetic, which led the company to experiment with 3D printing as a manufacturing method. 

Two of the three GSBF team members are mechanical engineering students. The two engineers took on this challenge as their senior design project. The goal was to design and build a machine that intakes ground bits of waste plastic water bottles (by products would otherwise be burned as trash) melt them, and extrude them as filament for a 3D printer. The result will enable the supply chain for a 3D printer, which makes the whole process financially viable.