With little or no access to electricity, India’s rural populations depend on dirty and inefficient energy sources like kerosene and firewood. Solar lighting is cleaner and more reliable, but often too costly for the average household. This case study
is part of the UNDP Growing Inclusive Markets
case study series and outlines the experience of Bangalore-based social enterprise, SELCO India
, in making solar lighting accessible to poor households in rural India.
SELCO’s business model is based on a two-pronged approach: creating customised solar lighting systems based on the specific needs of customers, and helping them access tailored loan and credit packages to purchase sustainable lighting. With a network of technicians to install and repair the lighting systems, this project has benefited more than 110,000 rural homes and 4,000 local institutions. Because solar energy is clean, it also has significant environmental impacts, although these have yet to be quantified.
This is an excellent case study of an inclusive business because it shows how the business fortunes have wavered, recovered and coped with challenges. Equally, it shows how the service was designed around low income households, with the key solution being to combine technology and finance at their doorstep.