Bringing renewable solar power to millions across rural India
Boond, a social enterprise that strives to bring energy to all through renewable solutions, joined the Business Call to Action (BCtA) with a commitment to install 4,000 solar micro-grids across rural India by 2022, reaching 1 million underserved people in rural areas with its inclusive clean-energy initiative.
Boond's inclusive business model takes three-tiered approach: ensure product quality (the company is ISO9001 certified), make renewable solar energy affordable for all and employ local community members in sales and service. Through its micro-grid business model and innovative pre-paid metering technology, Boond is enabling rural households to access clean energy 24 hours a day the first initiative of its kind in rural India. To date, the company's work has focused on the State of Uttar Pradesh, where close to 80 percent of rural households lack access to the electricity grid.
Close to one third of all individuals without access to electricity 350 million people reside in India alone; 400 million suffer from acute shortages and unreliable electricity supply. Such households have no other option but to depend on kerosene oil to meet their lighting needs which is expensive, unhealthy and potentially dangerous. A lack of access to energy for home lighting, mobile phone charging and other necessities not only constrains household living standards and productivity, but limits growth opportunities for the next generation.
As of 2011, only 1 million households in India used solar power as their primary source of lighting: the potential of clean, renewable solar energy to transform communities off-grid regions is far greater than is being realized. However, a shortage of reliable distribution channels, after-sales support, access to financing and high initial costs inhibit the large-scale adoption of solar energy. Although solar mini-grids are successful in addressing some of the challenges associated with decentralized home system, achieving operational and financial sustainability has been a far cry.
Boond's inclusive model is addressing these challenges through innovative pre-paid technology, which provides off-grid households and businesses with 24-7 access to energy for the first time. Since its founding in 2010, Boond has provided clean energy to more than 40,000 households along with schools, banks, health clinics and small businesses; the company is installing 50 micro-grids in 2016 alone. By working with strategic partners such as financial institutions, Boond is able to extend financing to rural entrepreneurs and village institutions who cannot afford the up-front costs. Through research partnerships with leading academic institutions, such Columbia University and New York University, Abu Dhabi, Boond works to develop a strong behavioral understanding of its customers, while optimizing pricing structures and quantifying its social impact.
Boond anticipates US$350,000 in revenues from solar micro-grid sales during 2016, and this figure is expected to surpass US$1 million by the end of 2017. In order to improve its responsiveness to customers, the company is building an online platform to capture and analyze data transmitted from its micro-grids. By 2022, the company aims to reach 1 million rural people in India and is also exploring market potential in South Asia, Africa and Latin America.