India’s economy has
been growing in a faster rate and with large population of about 1.3 billion;
the power sector has become one such determinant that defines the Indian
Economy. As on 30.11.2017, the installed power capacity in India is around
330.8GW, with the dominance in the power generated by coal. Presently, 192GW of
power is generated by Coal alone, followed by renewable energy of 61 GW. (Authority, 2017).This 61 GW of RES
constitutes 4.4GW small hydro, 32.7GW wind power, 8.3 GW of biomass power and 15.6 GW of solar power. (Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, 2017).
India being a
developing Country has rapidly growing energy need due to growing
industrialization and growing population. Today’s modern society cannot
normally exist without electric energy. The energy sector has been facing a lot
of challenges to meet this growing demand. There has been increase in
electricity per capita consumption, increase in power fluctuations, fuel supply
problems, shortages and quality issues in case of coal, lower domestic gas
production, increased fossil fuel imports, high share of green house gases
emitted from the conventional thermal power plants and lack of access to
electricity to one fourth of the population. (Agency, 2015)
Looking on to the above
problems, the renewable energy source seems to be the only solution for the
future energy crises. India has already put forward its step in this direction.
It has already set up an ambitious goal to increase renewable power capacity to
175 GW by 2022 ,with 100 GW of solar , 60 GW of wind , 10 GW of Bio energy and
5 GW of small hydro, thus making India a clean energy leader. (Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, 2017)
Meeting such huge
targets requires innovative renewable policies; innovative business models etc,
hence making the role of entrepreneurs very vital in energy sector. The
interest of Government of India and its policy driven environment in renewable
sector has enabled many large and small enterprises to enter into this sector.
Many entrepreneurs in these sectors have been trying to create viable
innovative business model to generate power for different consumer segment
using renewable energy sources. Society has categorised such entrepreneurs into
corporate, social and newly originated green entrepreneurs.
This paper mainly
focuses on the importance of social entrepreneurs in the renewable energy
innovation in India, however the presence of vast kind of entrepreneurs in
renewable sector has prompted us to ask certain questions –
-How are social entrepreneur
different from the present corporate entrepreneurs in the renewable energy
sector in India?
-Why has the role of social
entrepreneurs become so important in renewable sector in Indian context?
-What kind of role do
they play in this sector, any challenges faced by them, drivers that motivate
them to enter into this sector?
Social Entrepreneurs Vs Corporate
As per the name suggest
social entrepreneurs primary objective is to create social value while for a
corporate entrepreneur it would be a secondary objective. Social entrepreneurs can be defined as “high impact ventures that
address long standing socio-environmental problems, focus on long term
collaborative community capacity building ,rely on collective wisdom and
experience ,foster creation of knowledge and networks and facilitate sustained
positive social change” (Stokols, 2011).Contrary to social
entrepreneurs ,Corporate entrepreneurs
are those with strong commercial objective of economic value creation
through wealth maximization of shareholders .They grow around the
objective of meeting market demand profitability . (Stokols, 2011).
As per the renewable
energy sector, it is interesting to note that both corporate and social
entrepreneurs perform the same activity but with very different objectives.
Corporate entrepreneurs focus on the technology, business and innovation while
social entrepreneurs would focus on renewable energy as tool for social change.
Hence social entrepreneurs are the one who pay emphasis on those who are
marginalized and poor. For profit corporate enterprises would cater to those
markets which are potential of profit-generation while social enterprises play
a significant role in rural electrification with off –grid energy solutions.
Importance of Social entrepreneurs in
Indian renewable sector
Apart from the various
energy issues faced by India as discussed earlier, there are many social
problems which play major concern in Indian society. Despite the growth in
economy in the last few years ,there are still social inequalities and problems
which India needs to overcome .
Lack of Education
Catering the above
social problems is of major importance. Energy, directly or indirectly has a
strong relation with income generation, health care, education facility,
improved living standards, reduction in poverty and may more matters pertaining
to human development standard. Hence bonding the energy solution to the social solution
to create a sustainable model is the need of the hour and this can only be done
by a social entrepreneur. Thus, making the role of social entrepreneurs much
more vital in Indian context.
Challenges faced by social Entrepreneurs
of Governmental Support: There is no formal recognition as a sector in
their own in the Government which deprive the people to understand what the
actual difference between social entrepreneurs and other entrepreneurs. Due to
the lack of this understanding there is no key investment policy specific to
this sector been formulated by government which makes social entrepreneurs
deprive of any incentives, tax concessions including tax holiday and subsidies.
Lack of such governmental support creates hindrance for social business
development in India
of Entrepreneurial education: There is no
curriculum for entrepreneurship development in current education system and is
mostly limited to management institutes. Hence young generation do not
understand its importance and are not able to foster their thinking in that
direction. Even the management schools lack the term Social entrepreneurship
making it difficult to find a skilled and experience promoter for social
financial assistance: In India, social entrepreneurs face
lack of financial assistance Usually Banks avoid to provide loan to the social
entrepreneurs. They have a belief that they are like charity organisation and
won’t be able to run long time business and hence won’t be profitable. Hence
many social entrepreneurs either spend their own funds or try to raise fund
through local lenders or venture capitalists.
and Cultural effect: Usually people belief that all new
ventures are profit driven organisation and hence become reluctant to the new
methods and technology provided by them. They are not able to distinguish the
difference between a social enterprise and a profit driven enterprise,
resulting to the detoriation of social business development
bureaucracy: In India, it has been seen that funding
to social enterprises is mainly through foreign funding. This is because there
is no difference in terms of government policy between regular entrepreneur and
a social entrepreneur which makes assess to government fund very cumbersome.Getting
approvals is time consuming and requires
involvement of many departments
for Social entrepreneurs in renewable energy sector
though there is no legal structure for social entrepreneurship in Indian
government, still there are three main categories in which the government is
able to encourage Social entrepreneurship-MSME engagement, government-backed
venture capital fund and policy
has been slowly understanding the importance of ” social entrepreneurship “and
hence have started formulating policies and regulation that would directly
affect the social enterprises. SEBI ,the financial market regulator of India
have tried to formulate policy and regulate “Social ventures fund” which stated
that the funds are for the investors
seeking muted returns in returns for the social gain .
2010 National Innovation Council was set up to build up the development in
Innovation sector. Fund of around $200million has been parked as government
backed venture capital which would be utilised to address development in
innovative sectors. (Bank, 2012)
MSME sector, government grants loans to for the companies whose initial outlay
is below $2million and as many social enterprises fall in this category, they
can be benefited by this. Recently government ha proposed to spend around $
1.1billion over further development in MSME sector. (Bank, 2012)
energy sector there is no approval require for setting up a mini-grid
delivering power within 3km radius. Even MNRE has accounted capital subsidies
for mini-grid technologies and solar products
Role of Social entrepreneurs
are the one who can combine and create a bridge between the business sector and
social sector with the sole motive of addressing social problems. In India many
people live around remote and inaccessible area which makes it difficult to connect
them to the grid system. Large amount of environmental and heath issues are
arising due to inefficient sources used by the rural population.Thus, Social
entrepreneurs can enter into this rural energy market with a n objective to
provide innovative business model for enabling access to affordable and clean
projects set up by the government or private organisation which would supply
energy to the existing grid system won’t be that useful for the people who are
poor and leave around remote areas. Hence putting up decentralised renewable
energy system or micro grids could be an option to cater their energy needs.
Waste- to-energy projects is also a prime focus for the social entrepreneurs.
However people of
different areas have different economic capability, geographical challenges,
and social challenges specific to their own society. Providing them with energy
solutions also needs a deeper understanding about various other social
challenges faced by them and hence new innovative products and approaches needs
to be designed which can cater both energy and social needs of the people in
that society and in turn also fulfil the overall renewable demand of the
country. Such innovative approaches could be brought about by a social
Role of Social
entrepreneur is to provide a sustainable business model which is self
sufficient in its own way and does not depend totally on any outside charity or
donations. Sustainability can be achieved when there is a balance between the
environment, economy and society.
Case Study: The
Solar Initiative by Barefoot College
“By giving the rural poor access to practical technology, Barefoot
College demystifies technology and puts it in the hands of the villagers
themselves.” – Mr. Bunker Roy, founder of Barefoot College
College in Tilonia, India was founded by Bunker Roy in the year 1972 with the
simple belief that the solution to the problems faced by the rural poor people
lies within the community, their own old traditions and new technologies which
requires some adaptation to their situation.
on this belief Bunker Roy Started up a Solar Lightening Initiative in the year
1990 in order to provide rural solar electrification to the villages which are
inaccessible, remote and non-electrified.
idea was not based on any innovative product but was mainly focused on an
innovative methodology used to solve the age old problem of darkness in the
remote villages. The methodology used is quite different from the traditional
process used by other renewable organisations, which makes it remarkable in its
The methodology involves-
first the a village which is remote and unelectrified in selected for this
village community are explained about the services and then asked to select two
middle age women from the community who could go and attain solar training for
six months in Barefoot College. Selection of Women are for a surprise to the
village community, however they are insisted and persuaded to do so.
Barefoot used to train young, illiterate and semi-illiterate men and women,
however with time they realized that the middle age mothers and grandmothers
are the best candidate as they are very humble and easy to teach .They have a
lot more interest to do something for village and would never leave the village
however a young women after marriage has to leave the village and a young men
with new skill and knowledge would tend to leave his village in search of a
Trainees come from different parts of India and other developing countries but
illiteracy and language does not create a barrier in their learning rather they
learn through sign language ,shapes ,drawings ,colors and symbols.They are not
taught by any formal professionals rather are taught by the semi illiterate
village people who already have gain experience in Barefoot solar programmes
mere six months they learn how to install solar panels ,link batteries, how to
handle complex charge controllers and inverters, how to build solar laterns and
to establish a local electronic workshop where they can carry out maintenance
and repair work themselves.
believed that illiteracy and education is two different things. Illiteracy is
the one that a child gains from school while education is what we learn from
family, environment and personal experience. Hence this keen interest and
belief to work for their own community enable these women to learn such design
irrespective of their old age .These trained women are later termed as “SOLAR
training these Solar Mamas return back to their own villages and install solar
panels and start solar electrifying each house without the assistance of any
qualified engineer. They even carry out the maintenance and repair work by
themselves for which they are paid monthly by the village community
themselves-usually the amount the used to append on kerosene before. Later they
share their skill among other women in the community making them self
aspects of the programme
were certain aspects and criteria followed by the barefoot college which the
made this programme unique and sustainable in such a long run.
Bonding with other Social problems:
Apart from solving the energy issue through the solar electrification programme,
Barefoot tried to bond this energy solution to solve other major social
problems of the community.
example: In the Tilonia village were the solar programme was first started,
lack of asses to drinking water was the major issue. Barefoot stared training
the villager about solar powered water desalination plant which could provide
them drinking water. Apart from this they taught people the importance of
age-old practice of harvesting rain water. They also provided solutions in
dams, water mapping and testing all of which was done by the village people themselves.
solar programme also enabled the introduction of night school run through solar
light. Women’s were also taught how to built and use Solar Water heaters and
parabolic solar cookers .
Involvement of Community and making them
self-sufficient: Community involvement in any new
technology developed for welfare of the community defines the sustainability of
Example: In the barefoot Solar programme, at first Community gathers together
to understand the advantages of electricity and possibility of village being
solar powered. Community is explained that the service provided to them won’t
be free of cost and they must decide how much they can contribute monetarily
towards the maintenance and repair. Usually the amount is based on what they
spend on kerosene. Thus, relieving them from the sense of dependability and
developing sense of self-sufficiency among them.Later community itself is asked
to select two members for training .
involvement of community in every step helped to develop a faith and trust
towards the Barefoot College.
Partnership with various Organisations:
Success of the solar programme is because of the partnership network developed
by the Barefoot College. Partnerships between Multilateral organisation,
Government agencies, and private foundations with a common motive to serve poor
and the community itself enable the solar programme to reach the rural
communities in developing countries.
the solar programme ITEC funds the training of the participants whereas the
equipment cost incurred during the training process is borne by participants
communities, the participants government , MDBs
and international donors.
Impact of the
Women empowerment-basically in rural community women’s are confined
inside house restricting them to household activities but with such Barefoot
programmes women’s felt
more empowered and confident as solar engineers. Cross- cultural learning
during training help them to understand each other making them more confident
Villages “Go Green”-Utilizing
solar electrification reduces the use of kerosene, wood ,hence decreasing air
pollution, fire and health hazards.
grams of harmful carbon emissions is already been avoided by replacing kerosene
with solar as a source of light, heat and cooking. (Barefoot College).Annual; Kersonen
consumption in villages across Mozambique fell by 27,375 litres snd firewood
consumption fell by 91,250 metric tonnes . (Lauren Remedious, 2013)
Socio economic Impact- Community
could save a lot on kerosene and battery Expenditure.For example- beneficiaries
in Ghana have been able to save 76% in solar energy expenditure over kerosene. (Lauren Remedious, 2013)
The work load and labour for women was reduced
who would otherwise walk miles to bring wood, hence could utilize time in
productive activities. Community can
involve more in economic activities as day does not end with sunset.eg women
carry out handicrafts work which is a means of earning to them.
rural organization in fourteen different states of India are already using
Barefoot solutions to tackle community issues. They work independently but come
together as a network named SAMPDA and work to innovate and develop methods to
empower rural. Replication of training centres in Africa, Latin America has
also been done.
Together ,Solving the energy issues
along with other major social issues by involving variouis partners and the
community itself in the process of change ,has led to a sustainable model for Barefoot College.