Designing a new business to diversify farmer income and provide electricity to rural communities in Mali

Duration: 3 monthS

location: Africa

Client: UNDP


Only 25% of the population in Mali has access to electricity. However, the biofuel producing jatropha plant grows indigenously in Mali, which presented itself as a huge unexplored opportunity.



A year after this work, we found an article in the New York Times validating the model: "[H]ere in Mali, one of the poorest nations on earth, a number of small-scale projects aimed at solving local problems — the lack of electricity and rural poverty — are blossoming across the country to use the existing supply of jatropha to fuel specially modified generators in villages far off the electrical grid."



We designed a business model using jatropha as a biofuel for rural electrification with potential yields of 20% increase in annual farmer income and electricity for over 1.4 million Malians. This work involved understanding the requirements for cultivating the jatropha plant, the process of producing the biofuel and the costs of setting up an off grid electrical system.