The Solar Transitions project initiated and implemented Ikisaya Energy Centre, a social enterprise providing solar powered electricity services in Ikisaya village in Kenya. This study explores to what extent participatory developement can create a financially, organizationally, and socially sustainable social enterprise on the village level, and how this social enterprise can reduce the vulnerability of poor people through providing accessible basic electricity services. Findings suggest that participatory development approaches play an important role in ensuring project relevance and broad ownership within communities. However, the trade-offs involved in participatory development such as the balance between time constraints and local involvement, or between flexibility of investment thresholds and the demand for local initiative, may severely threaten project sustainability. Active measures must be taken to ensure local leadership and avoid donor dependency. Running a social enterprise requires a range of personal qualities such as engagement and accountability towards the constituency at hand. Transferring the leadership of a social enterprise therefore requires identifying special individuals within the community, which in this case proved challenging. Ikisaya Energy Centre provides basic electricity services for subsidiced prices. Provision of electricity significantly improved the ability of a substantial part of the population to increase their income. It increased opportunities for homework hours, boosted village activity, and created a new sense of identity in Ikisaya. Ikisaya Energy Centre may enhance empowerment, social capital, self-esteem, and contribute to vulnerability reduction across groups in Ikisaya. However, despite subsidzed prices, the poorest within the community were largely not able to access the services on a regular basis, which questions the ability of a social enterprise to reach the very poorest.