Paul Needham is interested in why and how people buy things. As a doctoral student at Cambridge, he specialized in a field of economics that asked questions like “What does it cost a buyer to find a seller?” Does the buyer have to travel a great distance, for instance? Does she have to pay a fee to a middle man? So when he started thinking about energy access—how to improve the way people in places without strong electricity infrastructure get their power—one of the questions he asked himself was “Why don’t I own solar panels?”
GOOD profiles 2011 Social Innovation Fellow Paul Needham who founded Simpa Networks, which sells high quality solar energy systems on a pay-as-you-go basis to underserved people in emerging markets.