Articles, Blog

SELCO | Harish Hande | Skoll Award 2018


Today in India, there are more than 300 million
people living off the grid, and many of these people are
living in absolute poverty. One of the critical reason
that poor are in poverty is because they don not
have access to energy. SELCO is an organization that pushes for sustainable energy
solutions to under served. In a manner that quality of
life and incomes increase. Energy is a critical component for health, educations and livelihoods. Today if you look at health, people just rely on fossil
fuels in a public health center. They use wood for cooking, which
is very unhealthy resource. Kids cannot study in the night because there’s no electricity. The problem is that, even
though there is power very often it’s not reliable in nature. So, I might have energy, but I might not have the
right kind of appliance. Or, I might have energy but at the critical time it gets cut. So, what SELCO does, is maps out the needs and the problem statements that
come out from the community. Currently the blacksmiths in rural areas use a furnace and a blower. The blower that they use
is either a large wheel or it’s a very inefficient motor. Together we come up with a solution. A solution is of three parts. One, is technology innovation. One, is creating the
appropriate financial product that matches the cash flow of the poor. And the third is, the appropriate market linkage for the intervention. The Roti Rolling Project, the need that really
came out from the field was that these entrepreneurs
that are making flatbread aren’t able to own machinery because of energy access issues. And, new entrepreneurs
don’t have many options to actually start new businesses. The solution is essentially
a piece of machinery that’s powered with solar,
which is very efficient. Along with the financial model that enables the micro entrepreneur to pay for it over a period of time. Critically what we’ve done is, not only the poor have got the sustainable energy intervention, but we have made sure that
they have become bankable. They’re credit worthy. For example in one case
where the very poor have a lighting, it was not our work just going to households
and providing solar. In this case, we went to the Apex Bank and scaled up the process of guarantee. That will reach a more
number of poor people in a faster period of time, rather than us going to every community and creating a solution. We come out with a solution, that not only benefits
that particular community. But, having come out with a process that is replicable for similar
communities across the world.

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