This post was originally posted on S3IDF’s blog. The original article can be found here. We would like to highlight the work of S3IDF because we greatly believe in the social benefit that solar can have. S3IDF demonstrates in the real-world and through innovative financing how solar can help others.
S3IDF reduces poverty in developing countries by supporting small-scale enterprises that meet basic infrastructure needs and provide opportunities for economic advancement.
S3IDF uses its Social Merchant Bank ApproachSM (SMBASM) to provide entrepreneurs with three bundled services: leveraged co-financing, technology access and knowledge, and business development support. Philanthropic and development capital are leveraged to mitigate risks and encourage local financial institutions to lend to the traditionally unbankable. By tailoring the approach to local conditions and markets, S3IDF enables the poor access to employment, asset-creation and ownership opportunities, and basic services. S3IDF’s diverse project portfolio includes solar, biomass and biogas, water, and other technologies for small-scale industries.
Today S3IDF is pleased to present you the third post in our Integrated Energy Centres series: The Dharmastala IEC.
IECs are solar-powered enterprises that provide a range of basic services and activities to underserved communities. IECs, a concept pioneered by SELCO, receive support from S3IDF.
The Dharmastala IEC
This temple town in South Karnataka has over 5,000 visitors every day; a number that dramatically increases during festival time to 10,000-15,000. The town is home to many residents and hawkers who run businesses around the temple. Dharmastala faces power cuts at least two to three times a week, which affects the area around the temple. Otherwise, the town is well served and well electrified.
The IEC concept was born out of the H1 – a centralized solar charging unit donated by Halloran Philanthropies and stationed in Dharmasthala. The centre began in February 2011 with the aim of being a demonstration and awareness centre in the town, so that visitors can experience the various services throughout the centre. Initially the centre focused on rentable lanterns, clean drinking water, and mobile charging facilities for the migrant population. Soon the need for supplementary services became very apparent. Community televisions, solar fridges (which flower vendors use to increase the life of flowers in summer), street vendor lights for rent, fans, and home lights were added. Some farmers rent out the lights and take them back to their land or villages which are sometimes over 40 km from the centre.
The revenue secured through the services ensures the centre is financially sustainable. Since the services are provided to migrant populations and are primarily for awareness and demonstration, the seasons and festivals cause revenue fluctuations.
The centre is monitored by the Belthangady Branch of SELCO and run by an operator who lives in the centre itself. Additional income generating services are being explored for the centre.