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Uncharted Ground With SSIR

Jan 24, 2022

Some 800 million people globally – as many as a quarter of them in India – have no access to electricity. Far more suffer routine brownouts and power cuts. The result puts the rural poor, who are most impacted, at a severe disadvantage in every way: Health-care services are crippled, education is compromised, and entire communities are cut off from modern industrial and digital livelihoods. In short, a key determinant of social equity goes missing.  

Harish Hande, an energy engineer, started SELCO in 1995 to pioneer the delivery of decentralized solar power to India’s rural poor. He built an entire ecosystem around their needs: system designs tailored to their unique demands, affordable financing fit to their cash flow, culturally attuned service providers, and a network of partners dedicated to solving their hyper-specific problems. While other companies shunned the poor as unprofitable, Hande built a profitable business by catering to them. Through the non-profit SELCO Foundation, he’s now scaling up by nurturing other companies and nonprofits to replicate his model–across India and in other developing countries in Asia and Africa. This episode tells Hande’s story.

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