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  • Awarded: 2018
  • Issue Areas: Clean Energy · Economic Opportunity · Education · Environmental Sustainability · Livelihoods
  • Countries Served: Burkina Faso · India · Nigeria · Philippines · Tanzania
  • Web: selcofoundation.org
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    About the Organization

    Well over a billion people worldwide have no access to energy. Meanwhile, $27 billion worth of kerosene burns annually to light homes across the globe. In India alone, 240 million people have little or no access to electricity in a country where it comes at a higher cost for the poor and underserved. These potential customers have distinct and non-homogenous needs, yet their perspective is overlooked in the design and development of most energy access solutions.

    SELCO has pioneered the delivery of decentralized solar energy to the poor in India. This energy access increases incomes, improves quality of life, and alleviates poverty, turning energy consumers into asset owners. SELCO sees the pressing need to develop a fertile environment to enhance sustainable energy access solutions for the poor. This includes an inclusive design process, affordable end-user financing, patient, high-risk capital, and conducive policies, as well as training and nurturing local talent as skilled workers, entrepreneurs, and innovators. Last mile energy solutions have clear commercial viability, and SELCO works to develop an end-to-end, holistic energy access model focused on alleviating poverty in a sustainable manner.

    Today, SELCO is an umbrella of organizations, each tasked to address gaps in the energy access ecosystem. SELCO India runs grassroots operations which market, sell, install, and service decentralized energy products like home solar systems. SELCO Foundation is an open-source innovation research lab for replicable social innovations across areas: livelihoods, education, and health. SELCO’s incubation program nurtures and catalyzes the clean energy enterprises that deploy and maintain sustainable solutions for underserved communities. SELCO Fund is an impact fund that seeks to deploy patient capital such as equity or debt to last mile energy access enterprises. SELCO operates at every level of the system and at every point in the supply chain, to build an ecosystem that increases accessibility, affordability, and appropriate renewable energy solutions for the poor.

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    In India alone, 240 million people have little or no access to electricity in a country where it comes at a higher cost for the poor and underserved.

    http://staging.skoll.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/selco-sl2.jpg

    SELCO works to develop an end-to-end, holistic energy access model focused on alleviating poverty in a sustainable manner.

    http://staging.skoll.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/selco-sl3.jpg

    Harish installed the first 1000 home lighting systems himself, and SELCO has installed 450,000 systems since.

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    SELCO’s direct energy interventions have provided 7.5 million people with lighting and energy products for homes, livelihoods, schools, and health centers.

    Ambition for Change

    Creating and enabling conditions for viable last mile energy solutions for poor people across varied contexts. Such as access to affordable financing, appropriate technology, nurturing local energy enterprises, practitioner driven policy and inclusive design.

    Path to Scale

    SELCO’s holistic models have been adopted across India and are being replicated in Africa, Southeast Asia, and other parts of South Asia. Over the next five years, 10 million people will have the potential to lift themselves out of poverty.

    Skoll Awardee

    Harish Hande After visiting the Dominican Republic and seeing solar energy in areas of poverty worse than India, Harish focused on solar electrification in rural areas. He returned to India in 1994 to start SELCO India, a for-profit social enterprise that provides affordable renewable energy services to poor, rural Indian households. Harish installed the first 1000 home lighting systems himself, and since SELCO has installed 450,000 systems since. Harish saw that social enterprises targeting energy services for the poor were often handicapped by inappropriate solutions for underserved communities. Harish envisioned SELCO as a sustainable solutions lab for ecosystem challenges in the energy access sector, and is recognized as a pioneer of sustainable, decentralized rural energy solutions across the globe. In 2011, Harish was awarded Asia's Ramon Magsaysay Award, often referred to as Asia's Nobel Prize. In 2012, he was appointed an expert on the solar committee at India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. Harish graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur and earned his PhD in energy engineering at the University of Massachusetts.

    Impact & Accomplishments

    • SELCO’s innovation touches every point in the clean energy supply chain, including human-centered and locally-driven product design, financing, and servicing.
    • SELCO’s direct energy interventions have provided 7.5 million people with lighting and energy products for homes, livelihoods, schools, and health centers.
    • SELCO’s holistic models have been adopted across India and are being replicated in the Philippines and Tanzania. Over the next five years, 10 million people will lift themselves out of poverty.

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