Harish Hande: Social Enterpeneur

In India, 57% of the population does not have electricity and in areas that do have access, the supply is often unreliable. Harish Hande and his company, SELCO India, are pioneers in providing access to electricity for families living below the poverty line through a combination of innovative energy, financing, and market systems. Hande graduated from the Indian Institue of Technology in Kharagpur with an engineering degree and earned his doctorate in energy engineering, specializing in solar energy, from the University of Massachusetts.

SELCO operates on three principles: the poor can afford sustainable technologies; the poor can maintain sustainable technologies; and one can run a commercially viable venture serving the needs of the poor.  At a time when affordable, marketable solar technology in America has garnered headlines for failure rather than success — the recent collapse of Solyndra, Inc. — Hande’s vision and approach is refreshing. Interestingly enough, Hande admits that the environment is not the motivation for his customers. They see his technology as a cheap and reliable way to access electricity that directly affects their income an lives — helping the environment is an added bonus. 

SELCO’s impact did not happen overnight; it took years of hard work and innovative strategies. It also wasn’t funded by hundreds of millions in government subsidies, but rather operates on a rather modest annual budget supplying the technology, installation, and financing to its end users. Tonight, Dr. Hande will speak about SELCO’s efforts to put solar power technology in the hands of the poor, through their social enterprise that brings customized, affordable, and sustainable electricity to India’s vast rural populace, encouraging the poor to become asset creators. In the mean time, you can check out this short six minute video on Dr. Hande’s work in a small town in southern India.

Harish Hande: Democratizing Electricity

PNCA | 1241 NW Johnson | 7:30pm

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