There is little empirical evidence to underpin strategies of poverty reduction through income generation in small scale rural enterprises through supplying energy. This paper reports on research findings from a three country study in Bolivia, Tanzania and Vietnam which aimed to provide insights into the scope and depth of impacts of modern energy services. Qualitative and quantitative data were gathered using structure and semi-structured interviews. The nature of the data collected was shaped by the Livelihoods framework. An analytical framework of four questions was used to synthesise the findings. What energy transitions are taking place in small rural enterprises, who benefits? Does the presence of modern energy carriers/technology stimulate production? Does an increase in productivity lead to a decrease in poverty in terms of financial capital? What is the impact of the changes in energy carrier/technology on the other four types of capital in the livelihood framework? For all of the above, the dominant contextual factors influencing the process were noted. Electricity was the modern energy carrier surveyed in the three countries. In answer to the questions regarding scope of impacts, at least for electricity, the impacts appear to depend on the location of the enterprise with regard to diversity of demand for enterprise services. The section of the population with the largest direct benefits in terms of increased financial assets and job opportunities consists of the existing better-off members of the community and their extended family. However, the benefits of improved working conditions for many entrepreneurs and workers and of both time and access to new and better quality products and services to customers of enterprises reach a much larger group of people, and these impacts can provide a substantial impact on poverty, if not on the financial dimension of poverty.