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Stories from the Field: Jogihatti

The following snapshot is the ninth in a series of stories from the Electrifying Households and Schools project, which is a yearlong project that is supported by the Applied Materials Foundation. The project aims to address gaps in end-user financing that limit the ability of low-income and marginalized households to access lighting and energy solutions and also works to provide schools with lighting and other educational aids.

Located in central Karnataka, Chitradurga is the center of the district’s rich cultural heritage. It houses the famous Chitradurga fort, built by King Madakari Nayaka who ruled the region during the 17th century. The district is also known for its dense forests, caves, cotton mills and groundnuts.

Upon arrival, the massive windmills that dot the hills leading to the city are immediately noticeable. Although these windmills function smoothly, not everyone in the district has the privilege of receiving electricity from this renewable source. Jogihatti is one such village. Located on the outskirts of Chitradurga, very few residents have grid connections and even those that encounter long hours of power cuts, especially in the evenings when they need electricity most.  As a result, Jogihatti residents primarily relied on kerosene to meet their lighting needs until SELCO and S3IDF became involved.

SELCO and S3IDF were introduced to the residents through MYRADA, an NGO focusing on rural development. MYRADA already used Self Help Groups (SHGs) to assist people from marginalized and low-income groups, such as laborers belonging to scheduled castes. Together, SELCO and MYRADA have been working in partnership for the last few years to provide solar lights to households and in common areas. SELCO andS3IDF play a critical role in bridging the financing gap by providing linkages and credit conditioning support. MYRADA supports residents interested in the solar lighting systems by providing needed guidance on managing their finances, including the repayment of loans taken for the systems.

MYRADA was able to secure a loan from National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) which they could lend to their SHGs to fund solar systems.

Based on a needs assessment, SELCO and S3IDF recommended a single light system costing Rs 6750. In order to maximize the reach, using the limited loan funding, SELCO and S3IDF contributed 20% of the funding through support from Applied Materials Foundation (AMF). The collaboration covered 100 households with each getting a one LED light system.

“My work changes from one month to another. If I earn for 3 months then the next few months I am unemployed. It is because of this that affording a solar system with a high capital cost seemed impossible. But now that SELCO and MYRADA have provided us with the needed funds, I can concentrate on paying the monthly instalments of Rs.100” says G.B. Balaraj, one of the Jogihatti residents, who lives with his family of four and works as a wedding decorator. Due to the seasonal demand for wedding decorations, he earns just Rs.4000 a month, a sum he says is insufficient to provide for his family. SELCO and S3IDF also provided him a solar charger, an added bonus for him. “I can now text my friends and relatives, read the daily news, receive calls from customers and more!” he says delightedly.

Through tailored end-user financing arrangements, supported by AMF funding, SELCO, S3IDF and MYRADA electrified 100 houses, giving a new hope to this once un-electrified village.