Of the 1.21 billion Indians, 833 million (68.84%) live in rural area. Unfortunately, half of the population in rural areas live in darkness because electricity production levels are not enough to meet the rising demand which has outstripped supply by about 7.5%.
According to data in the power ministry’s Grameen Vidyuti Karan (GARV) dashboard, Uttar Pradesh has emerged as the country’s most power deficit state with the widening of a demand-supply gap as per a report released by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA). Rural India faces drastic challenges to meet their basic infrastructure of electricity connection because: -
The salient features of the PBK project are as follows:
The PBK battery (a 28 Ah car battery) is charged centrally at the community centre.
Once the PBK is fully charged it is ready for delivery to the beneficiaries. Delivery is performed using the e-Rickshaw, which is itself charged at the community centre using our solar system.
This off-grid approach helps beneficiaries to charge two electric LED bulbs and a mobile charger which meets their daily energy needs, hence making them self-sufficient to extend their business and study hours after sunset without being dependent on expensive and toxic fumes of kerosene lamps.
After three days of use, the PBK battery is exchanged for a freshly charged one and the discharged PBK is returned to the community centre for recharging.
The entire solution is provided at an affordable price of Rs.190 per month which is lower and more cost-effective than other energy solutions and allows beneficiaries to pay monthly rather than in one lump sum amount.
Due to these advantages, we have been able to offer connections within a catchment area of 10 kilometres from our community centre and successfully launched our pilot phase in July 2018 with 130 PBK connections with most of our PBK beneficiaries being rural households and small business owners. After successfully implementing our first PBK project, we are eager to expand our project and improve the quality of life of more communities in rural India.
Challenges and learnings of the project.
Social entrepreneurship in developing markets is highly challenging. Recruiting local staff who are able to grow a business and possess the necessary professional and soft skills is the biggest hurdle for a project of this type. Our own experience is that comprehensive training is required to transform local potential into competent business leaders.
This training has the following components: literacy, finance, sales, planning, time management, reporting, team building as well as giving a vehicle to soft skills (negotiations, people management, communication etc.) and inspirational mindset change such as vocalizing vision and strategy. Our approach is a formal/non-formal combination of initial handholding and mentorship accompanied by skill training from experts on a regular basis. A full training module has been developed and training is executed in our Community Center.
We have developed a local solution that is both required and needed but requires upfront investment to then be managed as a self-sustaining business. Creating a subsidized sustainable model with the advantages of, providing clean energy at affordable prices, and creating jobs with an outlook to the future to attract investment of CSR/Foundation’s funds.
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