In February 2008, Fabio Rosa (Rosa), a social entrepreneur based in Brazil, was awarded The Leapfrog Fund Award sponsored by The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship and the Lemelson Foundation. The award recognized Rosa's efforts at providing rural families living in Brazil with access to electricity. About 25 million people lacked access to electricity in Brazil, most of them residing in rural areas as of late 2006. The adverse impact of lack of electricity resulted in high costs of cultivation, lower farm yields, high expenditure on non-renewable and hazardous energy sources, and poor living conditions. Rosa founded a private organisation, Sistemas de Technologia Adequada Agroeletro (STA) in 1992 and worked towards his mission of rural electrification. He decided to use solar energy to provide electricity to rural families through STA.
Rosa combined solar energy powered electrical fences with managed grazing technique that improved yields of cattle farmers. He formed a non-profit organization, Instituto Para O Desenvolvimento De Energias Alternativas E Da Auto Sustentabilidade (IDEAAS), in 1997, for extending the benefits of solar energy to low-income families. Rosa started two projects - the sun shines for all (TSSFA) and Quiron. TSSFA catered to those families which could afford solar energy at market rates and Quiron catered to low-income families that could not afford solar energy at market rates. Rosa developed solar home systems, a product that was leased at affordable rents to several rural families. Through Quiron, he developed self-sustainable business models that were to be adopted by low-income families to improve their income levels so that they could afford solar energy at market rates.
Rosa faced challenge of scaling up his business to cover the wh*** of Brazil and expand to other developing countries. Brazil government's efforts to extend electricity grid to rural areas also posed a threat to Rosa's business model as his customers might discontinue using his products once they were provided with access to grid. Consistent cash flows for minimum of four years were required for his projects to breakeven.