Stories from the Field: Agricultural Laborers, Belgaum
The following snapshot is the second 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 curtail the ability of low-income and marginalized households’ access to lighting and energy solutions and to provide schools with lighting and other educational aids.
Belgaum, Karnataka is a rural community that has been severely affected by drought for the last 3 years. Its residents are primarily agricultural laborers and, as a result, have been struggling financially. The residents, in an attempt to improve the quality of their lives in the face of hardship, illegally connected their homes to the electrical grid by tapping into a nearby electrical transmission line.
S3IDF and its implementation partner, SELCO, with collaboration from Shree Kshetra Dharmastala Rural Development Project (SKDRDP), approached the community and offered its residents the opportunity to switch to solar home lighting systems, which provide safer and more reliable lighting. SKDRDP is a Karnataka-based microfinance organization that provides infrastructure and finance through affordable loans to families through self-help groups. SKDRDP works to boost communities’ confidence in managing their finances. SKDRDP, established in 1991, currently operates in over 20,000 villages across Karnataka.
Together, S3IDF, SELCO, and SKDRDP convinced 20 households to adopt a 2 light LED system and provided them with a discount of Rs.1000 for a total cost of Rs. 8500 per system. SKDRDP provided a loan to a local self-help group with a favorable 3-year repayment term.
In this case, despite the absence of a mainstream financial institution, a local community partner (SKDRDP) that has a wide and influential presence in the area, was used to provide financing and help convince the community to take up a safer and more reliable solution to meet their needs.