The Promise of “Unbundling“ to Reshape PAYGo Solar

 Photo credit: Oikocredit, a PEG PAYGo customer

Photo credit: Oikocredit, a PEG PAYGo customer

PAYGo solar companies are now looking to specialize in one or two pieces of the solar puzzle including hardware, software, distribution, consumer financing, and value-added services. If successful, this unbundling will create more product options and greater flexibility for distributors, financial service providers, and end consumers of solar energy. What are the implications of an ‘unbundled’ #PAYGo business model?

Jacob Winiecki explores the implications of an unbundled PAYGo business model in this first post in a series on FIBR's collaboration with PEG Africa. Read the post.

Predicting Payment Behavior in PAYGo: Machine Learning Can Power Customer Retention


The PAYGo model makes solar affordable for end-users and provides sufficient margin for providers to scale last-mile distribution. However, for the model to succeed PAYGo operators must retain customers and build a base of loyal and engaged customers. Our project with Zola Electric (formerly Off Grid Electric) demonstrates that machine learning can help them do so. Read the post.


The Odd Couple: PAYGo Solar and Financial Services.

  Photo Credit: Dawn Deeks

Photo Credit: Dawn Deeks

Can the data generated by PAYGo solar providers open new avenues for financial services to be extended to low-income customers? FIBR is partnering with FINCA's BrightLife and FINCA Uganda to demonstrate the potential of this model and explore how PAYGo companies -- particularly ones with highly digitized operations -- can help low-income consumers access superior financial services through formal providers.

FIBR.AI - An Experimental Gallery of AI Applications for MSMEs and PAYGo

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The FIBR AI Gallery serves the goal of accelerating the introduction, adaptation and productization of AI tools in financial services in the PAYGo and MSME sectors. As a starting point we are actively exploring scenarios in which computer vision, predictive analytics and natural language processing can be used to produce gains and alleviate pains for PAYGo providers and merchants.

Our goal for the AI Gallery is to bridge the gap between the real needs of our partners and the cutting-edge AI developments that have the potential to address these needs.We are accomplishing this by first demonstrating to these partners some of these technologies in their raw, non-productized form and openly discussing whether and how they see these technologies being useful in their day-to-day life. 

Webinar: "Artificial Intelligence: Practical Superpowers," a New Report by BFA

Following the launch (May 16th) of the FIBR report, “Artificial Intelligence: Practical Superpowers,” we are hosting a follow-up webinar to present the paper and its insights.

As one of the first reports that looks at AI applied to financial services in Africa, this webinar is for fintech companies and FSPs in Africa, that might be interested or looking to move into AI.

By presenting insights from the report and having a panel discussion, we seek to create awareness around the real-use cases of AI for FSPs that can augment the ability of companies to do business better with AI-powered tools.

  • When: 6 June 2018, 9am-10:00am EST
  • What and Where: Presentation and panel via webinar


  1. Matt Grasser, Deputy Director of Inclusive Fintech | BFA  
  2. Qiuyan Xu, Chief Data Scientist | Cignifi  
  3. Andrea Ottina, Chief Business Development Officer | Access Tanzania  
  4. Sheel Mohot, Partner | 500 startups  

Moderated by Jane del Ser, Insights & Influence at BFA


Related Content

Webinar: Escaping Darkness: Consumer Value in PAYGo


Pay-as-you-go (PAYGo) solar is one of the most exciting trends in both energy access and financial inclusion. PAYGo's value proposition for the consumer has often been explained purely in terms of net savings and reduced kerosene spending. But results from research funded by CGAP and FIBR present a more nuanced picture of a financing model that provides great value to customers but can leave them vulnerable to exploitation.

In this webinar, CGAP and FIBR will present the results of our research in Kenya, Tanzania, Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana, taking a close look at some of the more controversial insights. Are customers saving money, or are they in debt over their heads? Can providers find a way to encourage joint spousal loan decisions, or is that asking too much, too soon? And is there a way to bring this model to the lowest income households? With input from the PAYGo sector and CGAP's Gender and Financial Inclusion Community of Practice, a frank and open discussion will ultimately focus on the question: Does this model work for the end consumer?

Date: March 6th, 2018

Time: 10:00 - 11:00 a.m. (U.S. EST)


Julie Zollmann (BFA) was lead researcher into PAYGo consumer insights for this project. She works both independently and with BFA to understand the demand side of retail financial service markets. As a senior associate at BFA, she worked on research to better understand consumer responses to electronic government transfer payments, consumer needs and preferences in savings devices, and financial capability in the context of branchless banking. 

Daniel Waldron (CGAP) is a researcher specializing in business models that leverage digital finance to achieve development objectives. He heads the water and energy work done by CGAP under Digital Finance Plus and managed the CGAP-FIBR research into PAYGo. He has authored numerous publications on the potential of PAYGo solar and has managed digital finance research in Asia and Africa. He holds a bachelor of fine arts and a masters in international development.

Paul Warnars (Off Grid Electric) is the head of Customer and Market Intelligence at Off Grid Electric, a pay-as-you-go solar provider operating in East and West Africa. Paul is in charge of new market scoping, customer insight studies, baseline country profiles, competitor analysis, and quarterly customer metrics. He has been with Off Grid Electric for four and a half years, and has lived in East Africa for six years. He holds a bachelor of business economics, bachelor of philosophy, and master of science in international development studies.

Yasmin Bin-Humam (CGAP) is a financial sector specialist at CGAP focusing on gender issues. She facilitates a community of practice on women's financial inclusion. Before joining CGAP, Yasmin developed indicators measuring women's equality under the law for the World Bank's Women, Business and the Law project and contributed to publications on legal barriers to women's economic empowerment. Her prior work experience spans the public, private, and non-governmental sectors. Yasmin holds JD and MSFS degrees from Georgetown University and a bachelor's degree in economics from Harvard.


Read the report: Escaping Darkness: Understanding Consumer Value in PAYGo Solar

Our other work focusing on PAYGo Solar: PAYGO Solar Briefing Note

Learn more about CGAP's work: PAYGo Solar

Escaping Darkness: Understanding Consumer Value in PAYGo Solar


This second report by CGAP and FIBR seeks to understand the value that customers derived from PAYGo solar and how they afford it. Going deeper than most surveys, this paper highlights the customers’ own words, along with aggregated insights—a blend of evidence and analysis while offering concrete recommendations for how providers can improve value to customers. 

Read the blog by CGAP here and download the report here. View the clever battery hacks that we saw in Ghana, Tanzania and Cote d'Ivoire to power light sources and charge mobile phones.

Meet the newest FIBR Partners

PAYGo Solar: Robust Agent Networks and Modern, Data-Driven Channels

FIBR has been looking at pay-as-you-go (PAYGo) models as a promising approach to broaden financial services to the underserved and building on top of more scalable distribution networks. This past July, we published our PAYGo briefing note, examining this rapidly-growing field where hardware meets software, where dirty fuels become clean energy and richer data sets translate to novel inclusive financial services. Two of our newest partners are PAYGo solar companies servicing parts of East and West Africa. Off-Grid:Electric is a PAYGo solar enterprise with markets in Tanzania, Rwanda and Ivory Coast. PEG Africa, distributes home solar kits and accessories out of Ghana and Ivory Coast. With these two partners, we are exploring the effectiveness of digital channels to extend financial services and engage agents and customers.

Sokowatch, like our two PAYGo solar companies, is another data-driven company that puts into play proprietary customer data and smartphone-enabled digital channels. As an on-demand ordering and delivery service for small retailers, Sokowatch's sales & delivery agents use smartphones to collect real-time data about customers and inventory. Through our engagement with Sokowatch, we will co-create new tools such as apps and targeted features on top of digital channels to increase value to their customers.

Read more about our partner profiles here.