LEN grew out of a 2009 meeting between then Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Richard Fahey. Mr. Fahey, a former Peace Corps Volunteer in Liberia in the 1960’s was visiting the country with a group of Return Peace Corps Volunteers to assess the conditions in post-conflict Liberia. Soon after the meeting Mr. Fahey retired from his law practice and became a 2010 Advanced Leadership Initiative (ALI) Fellow at the Harvard University. During his Fellowship year Mr. Fahey developed the business model for LEN. In 2011 he conducted market research and focus-group surveys in Liberia, established relationships with Liberian civil society organizations and conducted a pilot project to test the business model. In early 2011 Robert Saudek, a 2011 ALI Fellow joined Mr. Fahey to help refine and implement the LEN business model. In early 2012 Abubakar K. Sherif, a former community developer in Liberia ,and life long friend of Mr. Fahey and former student of his wife, Suzanne, who was also a Peace Corps Volunteer in Liberia, became LEN’s President overseeing and managing operations in Liberia. In 2017 under Mr. Sherif’s leadership, in consultation with Mr. Fahey, LEN has grown to be the largest distributor of off-grid solar connections in Liberia.
OUR ECONOMIC MODEL
The original LEN was formed in August, 2011 as a not-for-profit corporation in the United States, and in 2012 it was registered as a tax exempt 501c3 corporation by the Internal Revenue Service. LEN provided the initial funding and support for the enterprise in Liberia. Which it continues to do today.
LEN, Inc. was formed and registered in Liberia in 2012 as a not-for-profit corporation with Mr. Sherif as President. LEN, Inc. is managed, directed and staffed entirely by Liberians. In 2015 LEN, Inc. was incorporated in Liberia as a for-profit-corporation, with LEN as its sole shareholder, to engage in larger more profitable solar sales and installations with the profits being used to subsidize and support their mission of providing off-grid connections to Liberians at the base of the economic pyramid. To protect its growing brand, In 2015, LEN, Inc. trademarked its name and logo in Liberia.
While acting like a for-profit enterprise to make itself sustainable and reach scale, LEN seeks to sell off-grid solar units and services to generate sufficient revenue to support the enterprise, but manage costs so that even the poorest Liberians have access to the benefits of basic electric power and light.