The central assumption of publicly-supported market development programs is that providing resources to local entrepreneurs and strengthening the business environments fosters the emergence of self-sustaining local energy access ventures. We explore this assumption by applying a business model lens to analyze how participation in a market development program affects the development of local energy access ventures. Using the domestic biogas market development program in Rwanda as our case, we evaluate program design, the role of local entrepreneurs and interactions between participating ventures and the coordinating office to determine how market development programs contribute to a self-sustaining private energy sector. While providing a detailed framework for local ventures, the business model offers entrepreneurs few possibilities to act entrepreneurial and exploit local opportunities. Consequently, such programs will attract necessity-driven rather than opportunity-and growth-driven entrepreneurs, causing concern for the achievement of program objectives and the establishment of a self-sustaining private sector.