Indian villagers’ lives transformed by new energy delivery system

I’ve shared some other initiatives to develop small scale grids in developing countries. I’m especially fascinated by the business models, because the high price of kerosene and the normal costs of recharging mobile phones (travelling to the nearby city and back) should make it possible for (social) entrepreneurs to step into this market. According to the World Bank in Africa alone $10 billion is spend every year on kerosene. (read more about the possibilities in this excellent article by Yotam Ariel here)

Some of the examples I shared before:

Simpa Network



Barefoot college

The Guardian is sharing another company from India, using small scale solar systems they provide LED lights and mobile phone recharging to individual households. The households pay back the system with a small weekly fee. Which is less than the price of kerosene but should still be enough to cover the costs and make a small profit. I hope that the business model is strong enough to scale it further and have a bigger impact! 

Read the article here

Probably the best investment in a country you could ever make: invest in the education of girls. And equally important: keep them in school ones they enrolled. A major problem is the fact that ones a month you need sanitation pads, if you don’t get them cheaply enough you simply miss school a few days a month. This will seriously damage your future perspectives. 

To companies/charities are trying to change it. The video above is of ZanaAfrica a non for profit mostly working in Kenya.

The article below is about an Indian company (founded by a man!). He invented a low cost machine which can make cheap sanitation pads, he sells the machine to local female entrepreneurs which produce (and sell) the pads in their communities. The founder of the company Arunachalam Muruganantham decided to make India a 100% napkin country he even did his own research into the current solutions:

Fashioning his own menstruating uterus by filling a bladder with goat’s blood, Muruganantham went about his life while wearing women’s underwear, occasionally squeezing the contraption to test out his latest iteration. It resulted in endless derision and almost destroyed his family. But no one is laughing at him anymore, as the sanitary napkin-making machine he went on to create is transforming the lives of rural women across India.

What I find most interesting is his business model, instead of building a huge factory in every state and producing the pads himself. He invented a low cost machine to make the pads in the communities, thus creating a lot of local employment. 

We need more people thinking about business models and development. Instead of always wanting to invent the next technology breakthrough, we have to focus on the business models and systems to use these breakthroughs in real life. So much is possible from a technical point of view, but usually the business model to bring it to scale is not there. Let’s not waist our time finding new solutions, but take the current ones, experiment to improve, and get it to scale!

The concept of M.Paani is fascinating because it doesn’t speak about technology hardware etc. but only about a scalable business model. And yes this has to be tested and checked etc. but these kind of innovations are the ones we need! 

How are we going to extend the electricity grid to the billion and a half people who don’t have access yet? Through big transmission cables and power stations? Or could smaller localized systems be a solution?

Husk Power in India, is proving that it is possible and that there’s a viable business model too. They set up local energy systems, powered by biomass power plants fueled by rice husks. 

The wrote an article about HuskPower:

Part one

Part two

This level of failure represents a waste of between $1.2 billion and $1.5 billion in investments in 20 years,

From perhaps the biggest study ever carried out in 21 African countries to investigate water pumps in Africa. It found that 36 percent of pumps were not working. Tina Rossenberg (writer at the New York Times Fixes blog) investigates an approach to make sure the water pumps keep working and the model is sustainable. 

Just an amazing video about an amazing organisation from India: Barefoot college. The story itself is really cool but Bunker Roy makes it even better.

Their solution to changing the energy system in developing countries: train grand- mothers and they will become solar engineers! 

It’s really a grassroot movement starting to appear in more and more countries in Africa and Asia.

I don´t have much more to say:) just watch the video and enjoy!

Find out more here!