Empowering women to sell solar energy in India’s unelectrified communities

This partnership will seek to promote ecologically friendly energy products for household use. Many households in poor communities lack access to clean energy, instead relying on harmful and expensive kerosene for their lighting needs, drinking unclean water, and cooking with polluting cookstoves. Often unable to access finance to enable them to purchase products that would improve their quality of life, they rely instead on affordable solar solutions.

Through its team of agents from within the local community, Pollinate sells durable, quality eco-friendly products including solar lamps, improved cookstoves and solar fans. Pollinate offers customers short term payment plans to ensure buyers can choose the product that best suits their needs, and switch to solar overnight. 

Underlying this partnership is the recruitment and training of additional female sales agents, bringing their participation close to 50 per cent of the Pollinate sales team. In addition to ensuring stable salaries, lack of gender diversity among the sales team has limited Pollinate's ability to identify and promote the highest impact products for poor households. Research has shown that while men typically look towards products with higher entertainment value, women prefer investing in products that increase economic empowerment, save money, and ensure a healthier home environment.

Pollinate Energy will manage the initiative, and recruit and train female sales agents to be distributors of products in their communities. Kalpavriksha Greater Goods will help design and support the implementation of a gender inclusive training and development strategy to increase the diversity of Pollinate's salesforce. Greenlight Planet will supply the solar products and support female sales agents in sales and product servicing. This partnership aligns with Australia's commitment to promoting the use of solar technologies under the International Solar Alliance.

Partnership aims

  • Increase the rate of sales of eco-friendly energy products into rural areas
  • Recruit more women into Pollinate's sales network and provide them with capacity strengthening support to enable them to develop their businesses and provide for their families.

Key facts

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Shared value

Shared value is defined as policies and practices that enhance the competitiveness of companies while improving social and environmental conditions in the regions where they operate. To qualify as shared value, there must be an identifiable economic benefit to the company as well as measurable impact on a social or environmental issue. The BPP is helping businesses partners with the Australian aid program in achieving shared value – advancing both social and economic objectives. These partnerships are primarily being created in one or more of the following ways:

  • Reconceiving products and markets
  • Redefining productivity in the value chain
  • Enabling local cluster development

This partnership will enable Pollinate to scale up its sales model and access new markets for clean energy products. It will improve the lives of people living in poor communities and empower women by developing their business skills and enabling their financial independence.

Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment

Through money saved on kerosene, greater productivity, and reduced health risks from fire hazards and poor quality air, this initiative will benefit female consumers who are typically responsible for household duties.

Further, by recruiting additional female sales agents from within local communities, women will lead Pollinate's product distribution, developing their business skills, confidence and financial independence. Women from poor communities are generally under-skilled and have little formal education. With support from this partnership, they will develop sales and leadership skills that will enable them to earn an income and become role models in their communities. While increasing their earning potential and helping provide for their own families, these women will simultaneously be providing more families in extreme poverty with access to clean energy products.

Partnership information

The partnership is between Pollinate Energy, Kalpavriksha Greater Goods, Greenlight Planet and DFAT.

Pollinate Energy delivers solar home energy products to poor communities across India. The company also creates jobs, providing people with the skills and tools to generate a sustainable income and thus play a valuable support role in local communities. Pollinate Energy won the United Nations Momentum for Change Award in 2013.

Kalpavriksha Greater Goods provides women with technical training and support to establish and grow clean energy businesses and facilitates loans for entrepreneurs across the network in rural Nepal. To date they have sold over 60,000 clean energy products and incubated over 20 women-owned franchises which collectively employ more than 200 female sales agents.

Greenlight Planet is a social business that designs, distributes and finances solar home energy products to under-served communities for whom the electrical grid is unavailable or too expensive. Founded in 2009, the company has become a leading global provider of solar energy products to over 34 million rural consumers in more than 65 countries.

Last Updated: 21 November 2018