An acclaimed and constantly booming business and trade hub, the “Gujarat Model” has been lauded time and again, when it comes to rural enterprise building. A vibrant economy and favourable industry-specific policies have helped the state scale up growth in various industry sectors, and position itself as India’s manufacturing capital. At the same time, Gujarat is speedily encouraging alternative clean energy sources for enhanced self-sustainability in terms of energy economics, and has set ambitious target of at least 30,000 MW renewable energy generation by the end of 2022.
Speaking at the launch of the initiative, Arunabha Ghosh, CEO, Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) said, “India alone has more than USD 50bn worth of market for clean energy solutions for rural livelihoods; ‘Powering Livelihoods’ aims to catalyze the transformation of India’s rural economy by scaling up the accessibility and commercialization of clean energy-based solutions. By marrying CEEW’s deep expertise in evidence-based policy formulation and sectoral engagement with Villgro’s years of experience in growing businesses, the initiative will be highly significant in terms of capital, capacity building, and ecosystem support to help local enterprises in this domain survive and thrive, while escaping the ‘commercial valley of death’. We also firmly believe that the initiative shall be fruitful in unlocking crucial support from investors, policymakers, etc., as well as gather evidence to create a tangible and sustainable impact towards India’s rural development and climate change agendas.”
Taking a note of the above, Council on Energy, Environment and Water or CEEW—a leading, independent policy research institution, and Villgro Innovation Foundation—one of India’s oldest and most renowned social enterprise incubators, have jointly embarked on a novel initiative “Powering Livelihoods”, with a vision to bolster our rural economy through the scaling up of clean energy solutions. The initiative aims to provide dedicated capital, technical and sectoral growth support to at least five enterprises which are deploying innovative, clean energy-powered livelihood appliances, and shall enable them to undertake large-scale commercial operations over a period of next three years. The initiative boasts of having under its aegis investment partners like Caspian Debt, Upaya Social Ventures, among others.
While capital-intensive industries have lead the transition towards clean energy in Gujarat so far, in not many enterprises (especially in rural and remote areas) have so far realized that the reduction of energy use per unit output at the manufacturing level and further overall cost-cutting along the value chain can be achieved by the usage of renewable, besides mitigating greenhouse emissions and the detrimental impact on environment.
In the recent past, more than four million rural micro enterprises in India have cited lack of reliable electricity as the top bottleneck for their businesses. Providing reliable energy access not only creates new livelihood opportunities but also improves productivity, product value, and incomes.