India SELCO 2011 Case Study UNDP27 Dec 2013 |
SELCO India is a Bangalore-based social enterprise that makes solar lighting technology accessible to the economically impoverished people in India. SELCO’s mission is based on a simple but powerful idea that the economic conditions of the impoverished can be improved substantially if they are made productive. One of the biggest hurdles before is their inaccessibility to clean and cost effective sources of electricity. Most of India’s rural population does not have access to electricity. Instead, they are dependent on highly polluting and inefficient sources of energy such as kerosene or forest wood. Solar lights are free from pollution and provide greater illumination. However, given an average rural income of less than US$50 per month, upfront investment in solar lighting, ranging from US$200 to US$500, can be expensive and seemingly unviable for the average rural household. To tide improve this situation, SELCO made sustained efforts to persuade state-owned rural banks to lend money to households so that they can make the purchase. They worked extensively with these state-owned banks, an arduous task in India, to ensure that the repayment pattern matched the cash flow that would be generated as a result of the additional income facilitated by the purchase of solar lights.