Women in India disproportionately make up the 112 million who do not have access to electricity and ONergy Solar is moving even faster, eager to capitalize on one of the most untapped and challenging markets in the world. In the current Indian scenario perhaps the most exciting outcome in India of distributed renewables (solar lighting, home solar systems or mini-grids) is the impact on women.
ONergy Solar, the nine- year-old enterprise stands apart; the company has a bold plan for transforming India’s vast rural areas, where hundreds of millions live with unreliable electricity or no power at all. ONergy Solar’s innovative solar power solutions are providing energy to meet India’s development and social challenges. To promote solar as a clean and reliable source of energy, the company is training women entrepreneurs in its products’ technology, usability and special features. By partnering with local grassroots organizations – microfinance institutions, NGOs and women’s self-help groups – the company is imparting product know-how while also enabling these women to serve as company distributors – providing both income and empowerment.
Dinhata, a serene village with surrounded by hills in North Dinajpurand unpaved lanes dotted with huts and shops is one of the success stories of ONergy Solar in electrifying the rural areas where they have successfully demonstrated their viable business model to sustain the enterprise.Like in many other un-electrified villages in India, people in Dinhata depend on kerosene for nighttime lighting. As the dusk descends, women cook evening meals in the dim light of kerosene lamps and children struggle to read. Shops and local enterprises that aspire to work in the night, too, are forced to rely on this polluting and hazardous light source. ONergy Solar through its solar electrification has been able to bring a significant change in lifestyle and aspirations of people.
Sarala is a living example of how ONergy Solar’s entrepreneurship programs are creating change among India’s poor people.Solar technology has changed the lives of housewives like Sarala who hadn’t ever stepped out for work earlier simply because there weren’t any opportunities. But after receiving training on Solar small lights on usage and repair from ONergy Solar, she now works as a consultant in the village, helping people install safer, cleaner, efficient Solar lights in their houses. By being the first to electrify her house in Dinhata, and by taking the initiative to spread awareness of the benefits and opportunities of solar power, Sarala has become an inspiration for many women in her village.
ONergy Solar has collaborated with other, more established local organizations, microfinance institutions, in order to provide villagers low cost loans to buy solar devices. It has partnered with micro finance institutions (MFI) like Adhikar and Gram Utthan and Women Self help Groups to economically empower women which allows these women to work towards economic independence and an improved standard of livingfor themselves and for their families.
To date, ONergy Solar has provided training to more than 1 million women and aims to reach 5 million in India in the next three years. The company has developed products for solar irrigation and micro cold storage (for agriculture), low-cost solar computer systems (for education) and solar micro-grids (for livelihoods). It has built an ecosystem that connects technology, finance and grassroots organizations to manage the needs, aspirations and resources for undeserved customers at the base of the economic pyramid. To date, ONergy has impacted 500,000 lives, and working with its microfinance and NGO partners, the company aims to economically empower women with proper training. This new round of funding from MFIs has enabled to extend our outreach to rural communities with new products, providing an opportunity for local partnerships for businesses, women employment and additional training programs.
ONergy is providing Sustainable and Integrated Farming Solutions powered by solar energy, through the development of innovative solar powered irrigation system and solar micro-grid storages. ONergy has installed over 250 Solar Pumps for purpose of irrigation, water purification, drinking water, sanitation and water supply. This has impacted more than 250 village communities and over 5000 farmers and household and has created entrepreneurship for women crystallizing the dimension of linkage between distributed solar and gender equality.
On International Women’s day ONergy Solar salutes the visionaries and the avant-gardes:those women leaders in the rural India who have come forward to help not only their families but also their own state.This International Women’s Day, we salute the ingenious and often painstakingly conscientious efforts of these rural women champing to electrify the rural map of India with sustainable and equitable environment.