Australian Startup Brings Promise of Solar Power to India’s Slums

Jon Capistrano
Jon Capistrano
June 18, 2016

SBS reported that on the edge of Bengaluru, a few dilapidated apartment blocks, squats an Indian slum. From a distance, the slums looks like any other impoverished settlement – there’s a cluster of ramshackle tents, piles of trash and rubbish crawling with flies and groups of snotty-nosed children.

But if you wander along the crisscrossing alleyways, you will notice something a little bizarre. Here, 90% of homes are equipped with small solar panels rest on their roofs that power the light inside. The 1,000 residents have dropped kerosene for a clean energy which has not improved their health. Plus the solar panels provide a better quality light. The dwellers also save $100 every year because they don’t have to buy kerosene anymore, unless they use it for cooking. One of the residents said that they are very happy to have solar lights now because they can work in their house and the children can study inside.

The dwellers purchased their lights from Pollinate Energy, an Australian organisation that works with India’s poorest people in Bengaluru, Lucknow and Kolkata. Six young Australians founded Pollinate four years ago, including a mechanical engineer from Sydney, Alexie Sellar. She is also the organisation’s CEO. She said that they have already reached 60,000 people who have clean energy in their homes. It’s something that they would not have been able to access probably for another decade at least.

Pollinate Energy wants to be known as social business and it aims to find business solution to social problems. The Pollinate people drew much of its inspiration from the social works of Bangladeshi entrepreneur Muhummad Yunus, who won the Nobel Prize in 2006 for his work with some of the world’s poorest people. Ms Seller said that Yunus has been a huge advocate of creating business solutions that allow poor people to engage with the market and find the best solution for them in lifting themselves from poverty.

The Pollinate team identifies their Indian employees with an entrepreneurial spirit. The salespeople known as Pollinators work in the slums selling product on commission. Pollinate Energy’s customers can go into payment plans and have 5 weeks to pay for their product. Pollinate Energy has future plans to scale the business across India and wants to operate in 20 cities by the year 2020.

 

Click here to read the full story on SBS

Image credit: SBS

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