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In the slums of Bangalore, children cannot do their homework after the sun sets. Families use polluting kerosene lamps, and the fuel eats up a significant percentage of their humble incomes. Pollinate Energy trains members of the local community to distribute and install solar lighting systems as micro-entrepreneurs, or what the organization calls “Pollinators.” These Pollinators are armed with the best solar systems on the market and sell them to families within their communities.

Fast facts:
 

  • More than 10,000 people living in Bangalore’s slum communities have been provided with solar systems;
  • Transitioning from kerosene to solar, has saved more than 40,000 litres of kerosene and 100,000 kilograms of carbon emissions to date;
  • Pollinate Energy has the potential to operate across 50 major Indian cities with a network of 20 Pollinators per city, servicing a total of around 35,000 communities.

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The problem

Millions of Indians live in urban slums without electricity. The polluting kerosene lamps many families depend on cause health problems, burns and fires. Pollinate Energy is a not-for-profit social business that provides poor people in India's urban slums with access to affordable, solar-powered home lighting systems.


The solution

Pollinate Energy produces and sells low-cost solar lighting solutions to members of more than 140 slum communities throughout Bangalore. The solar lights are intended to replace kerosene lights by using a micro-entrepreneurial model.

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Pollinate Energy volunteers train local people from the urban communities to sell solar lights in slums, thereby creating new distribution channels and overcoming the challenge of getting renewable energy into the slums.

This activity has two key benefits: it gives communities access to cheaper, renewable energy, providing alternatives to the expensive and toxic kerosene lamps that many of them use; and it gives community members the opportunity to earn extra income through a micro-entrepreneurship programme. So far, over 10,000 urban poor living in Bangalore’s slum communities have been provided with solar systems. Transitioning from kerosene to solar has saved more than 40,000 litres of kerosene and 100,000 kilograms of carbon emissions to date.

Helping people

Pollinate Energy’s solar lighting system has been chosen specifically to suit the needs and challenges of urban slum dwellers facing extreme climate weather events – the system is portable and extremely robust.

photo  Slum communities in Bangalore are forced to move regularly, sometimes due to increased storms (as many of them live on reclaimed swampland).

Having a lighting system that allows people to move quickly in dark, wet conditions is a huge asset and will only continue to be so as climactic events increase.

Solar lights provide sustainable clean energy to some of the most vulnerable populations in India without creating additional demands on the already overburdened national grid.

Replacing kerosene with solar light increases the ability of people in urban slums to study and work in the evening, reduces instances of burns and fires and reduces spending on energy, as solar light is cheaper than kerosene.

Spillover effect

By the end of 2014, Pollinate Energy plans to operate in three Indian cities, and forecasts annual sales of 27,300 lights by 60 distributors. This will provide sustainable, clean energy to more than 100,000 people living in urban poverty.

With access to adequate resources, Pollinate Energy has the potential to operate across 50 major Indian cities with a network of 20 Pollinators per city, servicing a total of around 35,000 communities. Pollinate Energy’s model could also be replicated outside of India, both in urban and rural areas and in refugee and emergency rehabilitation facilities.


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