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Bangladesh Solar Home System Program: Lessons Learned

2 October 2013

This webinar, jointly held by the United Nations Foundation’s Energy Access Practitioner Network and the Clean Energy Solutions Center, showcased work underway in Bangladesh to support energy access using off-grid renewable energy, as part of the broader work the UN Foundation is undertaking around energy access within the UN and the World Bank’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative. The webinar explored the success of the Bangladesh solar home system program with three illustrious presenters:

  • Ms. Nancy Wimmer, author of Green Energy for a Billion Poor, will share her findings showcased in her book about general lessons on building a social enterprise to deliver energy services to communities, as well as highlighting the gender dimension.
  • Mr. Fazley Rabbi, Senior Manager at Grameen Shakti, will discuss Grameen Shakti’s role in the development of the program, its delivery and implementation modalities, and share lessons learned that can be applied to other countries.
  • Mr. Islam Sharif, former head of IDCOL and current CEO at SK Johnson LLC, will provide an overview of IDCOL’s national model, and discuss best practices at the national level around aligning incentives, structuring and approach.

Presentations were followed by an interactive Q & A session in which participants discussed with the presenters the details of the Bangladesh model and how it can be scaled up and applied to other contexts.


Tripta SinghTripta Singh, UN Foundation

Tripta Singh is the Deputy Director for Energy Access at the UN Foundation. She has more than 12 years of experience working on international development and energy and climate related issues. In her current role, Tripta works on operational coordination and strategy for the Energy Access Practitioner Network, focusing especially on the Network’s engagement in Asia. Prior to joining the Foundation, she worked at World Neighbors where she managed community health and environment programs in several developing countries. Tripta has an M.Phil. degree in Geography from the Delhi School of Economics in India and a master’s degree in international affairs, with a focus on environmental policy, from Ohio University.

Nancy WimmerNancy Wimmer, Director, microSOLAR

Nancy Wimmer is the director of the renewable energy research company microSOLAR, which specializes in microfinance and rural electrification in developing countries. She has been involved with the Grameen Bank since 1990 and with the renewable energy company, Grameen Shakti, since it was founded in 1996. Her work with microfinance, village banking and rural entrepreneurs has taken her to Bangladesh, Egypt, El Salvador, India, Honduras, Nepal and Peru. Nancy’s recent book, Green Energy for a Billion Poor – How Grameen Shakti Created a Winning Model for Social Business, describes for the first time how an entrepreneurial rural energy service company started from scratch and after 17 years became a world leader in off-grid solar energy. By describing the inner workings of a successful business, it is helping to guide entrepreneurs in developing countries and students in university seminars. Nancy has studied at the universities of Hamburg and Munich and holds a Masters in Philosophy from the Munich School of Philosophy. She has served German industry as a knowledge engineer, advises social investors and entrepreneurs and is a member of the advisory board of the World Council of Renewable Energy. Meet her at

Fazley RabbiFazley Rabbi, Senior Manager of Grameen Shakti

Mr. Md. Fazley Rabbi is a Senior Manager at Grameen Shakti in Bangladesh. He has been working as a team member for disseminating Grameen Shakti’s Solar Home Systems and other renewable energy technologies since 2005. Mr. Fazley is working with the Grameen Shakti’s Administration & HR department, which is managing 12,000 staffs and 1500 offices across Bangladesh. Grameen Shakti, a pioneer renewable energy company was established in 1996 to provide the rural people of Bangladesh with access to affordable, clean and modern renewable energy solutions. It is the first company in the world that has provided 1.2 million homes in Bangladesh (August 2013) with solar power electricity. It is also the largest off-grid solar program in the world. Grameen Shakti is inspired by the concept of social business of the Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus. It creates employment, fosters entrepreneurship, empowers women, youth and communities, breaks energy poverty and helps to limit environmental damages. Grameen Shakti aims to achieve the installation of 2 million solar home systems by 2015. Previously, Mr. Fazley worked with Grameen Bank micro-credit programs with various managerial roles for 16 years in the field of poverty alleviation. He has also attended and presented the experiences of Grameen Shakti in different national & international workshops/seminars. Mr. Fazley Rabbi was born in 1962. He received his M.A. in Sociology in 1985 from the University of Rajshahi, Bangladesh.

Islam Sharif Islam Sharif, President and CEO, SK JohNson LLC

Mr. Islam Sharif is the President and CEO of SK JohNson LLC a financial and renewable energy advisory company in New York, USA and Dhaka, Bangladesh. SKJ advisory services include solar program development, financial structuring, risk management, financial modeling, fund arrangement, market development, transaction analysis and negotiations. Mr. Sharif has developed models for commercial Solar Home Systems (SHS) projects, brick kilns and other renewable energy projects. He is raising social development funds by using a team in both New York and Dhaka by employing his previous/immediate experience of Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL). He was the CEO of IDCOL, Government of Bangladesh owned financial institution until April 2012. During his three-year tenure at IDCOL, the globally acclaimed IDCOL Solar Home Systems (SHS) program experienced a phenomenal growth increasing monthly installation to 50,000 from 12,000 lighting up the lives of ten million people thru May 2013. In the process, a $200 Million private sector solar industry was developed and 200 new solar companies were established. He has successfully developed a team in Bangladesh engaged in supporting orderly development of a robust commercial solar industry sector in Bangladesh and other parts of Asia and Africa. Since leaving IDCOL in April 2012, he remains dedicated to his passion on financing and dissemination of renewable energy, energy efficiency and low carbon business development through his new venture SK Johnson LLC located in New York and Bangladesh. Previously, Mr. Sharif worked in the financial services sector in the US. He spent about 25 years with Citibank NA, JP Morgan Chase, Charles Schwab and Prudential in New York. Mr. Sharif has an MBA in Finance from LONG ISLAND UNIVERSITY, MS in Social Sciences (International Affairs and Economics), MA in English.

Sayeed HassanSayeed Hassan, Chief Operating Officer, Rahimafrooz Storage Power Division

Sayeed Hassan worked with Philips International in the fields of Telecommunications and Projects in Bangladesh, Philippines, Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Australia and Malaysia in various capacities from 1978 to 2001. He joined Rahimafrooz Batteries Limited as General Manager, Operations in 2002. Sayeed is currently the Chief Operating Officer for the Rahimafrooz Storage Power Division. He is a fellow of the Bangladesh Institution of Engineers, a member of the Institution of Engineers (Australia) and a life member of Bangladesh Society for Total Quality Management. Sayeed completed his B.Sc. electrical engineering at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology in 1976, his post-graduate diploma in advanced electronics from Philips International Institute (Holland) in 1978, and his M. Sc. in electrical engineering at Université Catholique de Louvain (Belgium) in 1982.