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Green Energy for a Billion Poor: How Grameen Shakti Created a Winning Model for Social Business Paperback – Import, 7 Feb 2012

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A Fascinating Story 23 June 2012
By Siglind Bruhn - Published on
Format: Paperback
Based on her field studies of Grameen Shakti's admirable work for the poor in rural Bangladesh and personal statements of those on the ground, Nancy Wimmer tells the story of the Grameen Bank's sister company, Grameen Shakti Social Business, which brings green electricity even to the remotest villages. She succeeds superbly in painting a lively picture of Shakti's daily operations and presents what could be called a case study for sustainable business. The bank's model of entrepreneurship challenges the common assumption that there is no viable alternative to the systems of self-interested (neo-liberal) capitalism and altruistic charity. Wimmer's book not only reveals Grameen Shakti's innovative approach to business but also why it is so successful.
Enlightening! 4 October 2014
By Katrin Puetz - Published on
Format: Paperback
Is there an alternative to subsidized programs and aid-funded projects to introduce new technologies to rural people in developing countries? Are you ready to give up your view on “poor” people’s inability to help themselves?
Whether your answer is yes or no, in both cases you should read this book. It does not only prove that it is possible to run a successful business in a rural developing world environment. More importantly, it teaches you how a different way of thinking opens more than business opportunities. It defines business in a very new way: here it is not only about satisfying a customer’s demand. It is more about creating a market and then understanding and managing its very diverse and sensitive dynamics. This is a whole new dimension of business and it is so well researched, understood and presented by Nancy Wimmer that one gets very motivated and excited to follow this example of Grameen Shakti.
Without this book so many secrets of the way of successfully doing business with the poor in rural areas of developing countries would still be in the dark – unknown to the world. Because Nancy Wimmer reveals important secrets about this new dimension of business I was able to realize the real challenges for (B)energy and our mobile biogas technology, before we actually faced them. By developing mobile biogas technology on a low tech and low cost basis the foundation for our business was created. And although a social business model was defined from the beginning, my real eagerness was generated from this book. It taught me that understanding the local markets and then using all means of creativity and new ways of thinking to reach the new customers with a product designed for them would be the most interesting part of all. Knowing that it is possible gave me the necessary optimism to start and now to run (B)energy the way we do!
A must read for anyone interested to start a succesfull business in a rural developing market 9 September 2014
By Eveline Bruggink - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
A must read for anyone interested in building a successful business in a remote developing market. Nancy clearly has in-depth field experience, having lived for a long time with local Bangladeshi families. She knows exactly what to takes to start a business in such a difficult market. This book has helped us a lot in launching our business to bring solar powered light and other new technologies to rural Indonesia. It is full of very useful practical in-sights.
Empowering 25 June 2014
By Michael A Sizemore - Published on
Format: Paperback
As a person striving to integrate himself in the social enterprise world, this book provided the necessary motivation, background, and information to continue my progress in this space.

Nacy provides not only the inspiration (both in and outside the book), but also the necessary technical data in order to keep an engineer satisfied. This book gives a great blueprint for furthering the field and setting up replication for the social enterprise model. She couples this with a good focus on the human aspect of sustaining a social enterprise

I would recommend reading this book twice, both in German and English :).
Book Used for Professor Smestad's Energy Class 28 January 2014
By L. Cowan - Published on
Format: Paperback
I've recently used Nancy Wimmer's book at Santa Clara University in California for my graduate engineering class on, "Distributed and Renewable Energy in the Developing World." It was a success and, to my knowledge, this is the first use of the book for this purpose. My students learned more about Grameen Shakti's proven and time-tested sustainable business model for renewable energy distribution and utilization. Through the book, they were inspired to go beyond their technology-based disciplines and they were surprised to learn the methods of a company that can make a profit and use the generated funds towards helping to build local rural businesses that utilize its renewable energy products. One unique aspect of the book is its description of the creation of the Grameen Technology Centers, where women engineers train village energy entrepreneurs for local production and repair as the business expands.

The book describes solar home systems, improved biomass cook stoves and biogas cooking systems. Combined with supplemental technical information that is easily obtained from journals, the book allowed these topics to be efficiently and enjoyably taught. Technology, however, is only part of the equation. Engineers should know, and even master, the art of rural business. A good sample of this content can be found in Nancy Wimmer, The Art of Rural Business, Journal of Management for Global Sustainability, Vol. 1, No. 2 (2013).

Some of the questions that the book helped to answer include: What makes rural electrification in a developing country difficult? What are the main characteristics of rural off-grid energy markets in those countries? How will potential markets vary? Which markets look promising (from a social entrepreneurial and economic point of view)? Why is electricity important for the rural customer? What form of electricity is marketable? In what way can it deviate from energy services in industrialized countries? What are the key ingredients of a successful strategy for off-grid rural electrification?

The business environment and the market in the rural areas of developing nations is hard to visualize for those with no first-hand experience. "Green Energy for a Billion Poor" successfully gives its readers the benefits of the experience of its author, who has been on the ground studying Grameen Shakti for several decades. Her book gives a unique and invaluable behind the scenes picture from several perspectives by describing the development of Grameen Shakti through the eyes of the engineers and managers who were in the villages innovating, developing and maintaining it. I strongly recommend this book for those interested developing renewable energy businesses and those tasked with teaching how science, engineering, business and cultural awareness has already created change on a massive and exponentially increasing scale.
Greg P. Smestad, Ph.D.

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