An Australian social enterprise distributing solar lights to impoverished communities in India is a finalist in The Venture, a competition for innovative businesses that are creating positive change in the world.
The enterprise trains local entrepreneurs in India (known as ‘Pollinators’) to developed micro-businesses engaged in door-to-door selling, installing and servicing solar lights in the nation’s urban slums. The goods are provided on a credit basis and are even affordable to people who live on less than $2 a day.
Most of these customers had previously used expensive, polluting and toxic kerosene. Kerosene lighting is also responsible for many deaths in India through fire.
The solar lighting project has been hugely successful. Up to June 1:
- 14,319 systems have been installed
- 65,867 people reached
- 1.46 million liters of kerosene saved
- 3.52 million kg of CO2 emissions avoided.
Not only do users of the solar lights have a healthier light source, customers save on average five percent of their annual income – and for these people, every rupee really, really counts.
Currently the enterprise is working in three Indian cities – Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kolkata. Pollinate Energy wishes to expand and is hoping The Venture can assist them in bringing light to many thousands more.
As a finalist, Pollinate Energy will has a chance for a share of The Venture’s USD $1 million fund and also be provided access to tools and mentorship to accelerate their growth.
“With this funding, we will launch operations in five more cities over the next two years,” says Pollinate.
“Not only will this mean we’re impacting the lives of 165,000 additional people every year, but at this point we’ll also break even financially. This means we’ll have succeeded in creating a sustainable social enterprise solution, and can finance our continued expansion to light up the rest of the world.”
$250,000 of the prize pool will be distributed based on public voting currently under way. The remainder will be awarded after a final pitch in New York later in the year.