Recent Posts

Kingo GES© Case Study

Guatemala & Colombia: Kingo Energy

Innovative solar energy distributor in Latin America


Kingo is one of the leading distributed solar power companies in Latin America, currently operating in Guatemala and Colombia with 51,755 and 6,442 installed users, respectively. Kingo´s mission is to change the lives of off-the-grid (OTG),  base-of-pyramid communities by bringing affordable solar power to their homes for light, connectivity and productivity, thereby contributing to socio-economic development and breaking the vicious circle of poverty.

Business Model

Kingo installs solar energy kits in Off-the-Grid (“OTG”) homes for a minimum refundable deposit, making the service accessible to users as it avoids the upfront cost of solar technology or micro-finance loan payments. Kingo also commits to maintain and service the equipment thus provided. Kingo installs units with the expectation that users will maximize the usage of electric appliances, maintain a minimum level of usage and, in time, upgrade from basic products to products that increase their productivity like a TV, refrigerator, or small motor.

Customers prepay the electricity service as they purchase activation codes from a network of shopkeepers (approximately 60% are women), for the time they choose to access the electricity, with options from 1 day to 1 month, depending on their budget. Such a flexible power service offering, similar to mobile prepaid service, significantly reduces collection risk. Kingo provides trainings to their shopkeepers to expand their business and operations capabilities.


Kingo offers a flexible product portfolio that adjusts to a user´s budgets and needs.  The most popular package, the “Kingo Light” kit at $ 8.8-10/month, has the capacity to provide 6 – 8 hours/day of power to 3 light bulbs and 1 USB port. Prior to Kingo, these OTG communities typically used more expensive power and light substitutes such as candles, kerosene and diesel. With Kingo, energy is generated and consumed in the same place (OTG users´ homes), so no “solar farms”, no grid distribution, and little energy storage are involved. Kingo designs the products, the orange box that contains a lithium battery and a smart energy system that converts the photovoltaic solar power generated by the roof panel to electricity for the functioning of the add-ons that are attached to it.  The “Kingo” (orange box) has a number of keypad for users to key-in the 16-digit code they purchase from shopkeepers to unlock energy flow.

Kingo also possesses sophisticated proprietary software – “Ant” – which assists in operations by leveraging big data technology via the individual Kingos.

Key Facts

Current Activities

  • More than half of Kingo’s shopkeepers are women: More than 1,000 Kingo shops are managed by women shopkeepers. Kingo is focused on increasing the levels of shopkeeper penetration in target markets, expecting to maintain a similar level of women shopkeepers.
  • Training programs on business skills for its women shopkeepers: Shopkeepers have proven to be a reliable channel for distributing the activation codes. They can also be a good channel to distribute the Kingo units and the numerous embedded activities to service them. With SEAF’s new investment, the Kingo team, as part of its shopkeeper inclusion in the overall value offer, is providing training in rudimentary inventory management, customer relationship management and Kingo unit maintenance.
  • Women customers are disproportionately benefitting from Kingo: Data shows that about 25,000 of Kingo’s OTG clients are women. However, well-being has been improved for women and girls in the 51,000+ Kingo families. Kingo’s solar kits provide families with a brighter life, but also the opportunity to work, study, socialize and enjoy more time with others after sundown. Families have the power to strive for academic qualifications, to grow their businesses, and to improve their overall well-being.
  • Increasing access to purchase and service: Kingo is focused on making it as easy as possible for users to buy a code. The more accessible the shopkeepers are the easier it is to buy a code. In fact, Kingo has seen 40% more active customers where there is a shopkeeper less than 500 meters away.
  • IDB Invest has just joined SEAF as an investor in Kingo. They have a program to “give back” a number of shares if Kingo meets gender-related metrics.

Kingo’s SEAF Gender Equality Scorecard©

Colombia Gender Demographics

  • Colombia’s fifty-year-long conflict left over 8 million victims, of which 49% are women and girls. Displacement, homicide, femicide, violent threats, forceful disappearances, and sexual violence are some examples of the victimizing acts that over 4 million Colombian women have suffered during the conflict. Due to conflict, millions of women are head of households.
  • The 2016 peace treaty puts women and gender equality at the forefront of peace implementation. However, studies show that women are engaging less in participatory mechanisms for peace implementation (e.g. community meetings) in comparison to men.
  • WEF’s 2020 Global Gender Gap Report ranks Colombia 22nd out of 153 countries and 3rd in Latin America in gender equality, having closed 75.8 % of its gender gap. The global average stands at 68.6 %.
  • In this context it is important to note that women also perform 3.86 times more unpaid domestic and care work than men in Colombia, allocating 17.54 %of their day for such activities, while men allocate 4.54 %

Women Economic Empowerment Highlights

Pay Equity

  • The SEAF WEE Team is working with the company on establishing employee surveys or benchmarking studies, institutionalizing best practices and further improving pay equity

Benefits & Professional Development

  • Kingo provides maternity leave according to government policy.
  • Kingo is also working with the SEAF WEE team to establish training programs on business skills for its women shopkeepers
  • With SEAF’s new investment, the Kingo team is providing training in rudimentary inventory management, customer relationship management and Kingo unit maintenance to improve shopkeeper inclusion and increase its value offer

Workforce Participation

  • Kingo has an all-men commercial team of more than 150 people and a 14% women’s participation in operations
  • However, Kingo’s network of shops is 60% owned by women. Such shops provide basic level maintenance and advice to Kingo users
  • Kingo’s management team recognizes that there are certain jobs for which Kingo rarely receives applications from women candidates and is keen to work with the SEAF WEE team on institutionalizing hiring and retention best practices
  • Kingo’s General Counsel and Comptroller are women

Workplace Environment

  • The main potential workplace hazard is related to warehouse operations and conditions, where Kingo leverages international standards in workplace safety
  • Kingo also has a no-tolerance policy for sexual harassment. The SEAF WEE team is working with Kingo to bring forward globally agreed-upon principles to Kingo’s workplace
  • The second primary hazard is related to off-grid operations, both in transport and in field activities. Kingo trains its team on navigation, community relationships and “team travel” when working in remote areas. There is also a daylight working policy, that ensures during non-daylight hours employees work closer to residence

Leadership & Governance

  • Kingo’s Colombia Director is a Colombian woman, so half of the country directors are female
  • She manages a team of more than 30 employees of which the majority are men.
  • The position also involves strategic decision making on Kingo’s warehouse management, unit deployment, off-the-grid customer acquisition campaigns, maintenance, etc.

Women Powered Value Chains

  • More than 50% of Kingo’s shopkeepers and almost 50% of its OTG customers are women
  • In a recent study on data collected from OTG customers, Kingo found that 82% of its customers are engaged in agriculture as their principal economic activity
  • One significant improvement for households using Kingo is eliminating the need for toxic smoke in the house from dirty alternatives such as candles and kerosene lamps
  • SEAF and Kingo management believe that through increasing women shopkeepers, Kingo will further increase access for OTG women customers