Energy is a critical resource that links the factors of production and influences socioeconomic development in communities, and its importance in driving development within social and economic systems cannot be underestimated. It is, however, critical that energy development initiatives are linked to economic activity to stimulate socioeconomic development. This paper contributes to the discourse on global development through rural electrification by presenting cases on energy delivery for rural development in three developing countries on different continents. Specifically, this paper addresses the challenges around innovation in designing, financing and implementing sustainable business models necessary for delivering energy to rural communities in developing countries. The paper also highlights the importance of business models in attracting finance for rural renewable energy projects, establishes the importance of adapting business models to local conditions and specifies the role of innovation in scaling up sustainable business models to accelerate progress toward alleviating the energy access challenge in developing countries.