IFC Expands Access to Affordable Quality-Assured Solar Products in Rural Rajasthan

Jaipur, India, September 14, 2015 — IFC’s Lighting Asia/India program that aims to provide safe, affordable, and quality solar lights to people with limited or no access to electricity, is increasing the availability of quality-assured solar lighting products in rural parts of Rajasthan. This is being done through a consumer awareness campaign, Suryoday™.

The campaign, delivered in partnership with solar products rural distributor, Frontier Markets, has reached over 250 villages and about 15,000 people in Sawai Madhopur, Jhunjhunu, Jaipur, and Dhaulpur districts of Rajasthan.

For this campaign, Frontier Markets has trained a network of rural women, called ‘solar sahelis’, who educate rural households about the benefits of clean lighting, and who have been trained in marketing, sales, and after-sales service. Frontier Markets in turn collaborated with local partners such as Princess Diya Kumari Foundation and Self-Help Group PRADAN to provide entrepreneurial skills training to women.

“Solar sahelis are an integral part of our operations, and help ensure consumer trust,” said Ajaita Shah, Founder and CEO of Frontier Markets. “It also provides an employment opportunity to rural women.”  To date, Frontier Markets has recruited 250 solar sahelis and plans to grow the network to 20,000 in 4 years.

All the solar lighting products being promoted under the campaign have passed an independent three-month quality assurance testing process. This quality assurance framework was developed by the International Finance Corporation and the World Bank, and has been adopted by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), world’s leading organization that sets International Standards for all electrical, electronic, and related technologies.

“A huge population lives without adequate electricity access in India. Yet, the solar lighting market remains nascent with penetration well below five percent,” said Anjali Garg, Program Manager, Lighting Asia/India program. “We are working on a series of interventions with manufacturers and distributors of solar lighting products to widen access to quality solar lights for rural consumers.”

IFC’s Lighting Asia/India program has partnered with manufacturing companies such as Barefoot Power, D.light Energy, ECCO Electronics, Greenlight Planet, Omnivoltaic, Orb Energy, Panasonic, and SUNLITE, in addition to distribution companies  such as Frontier markets, Dharma Life, Mahindra EPC and TOTAL Oil India Pvt Ltd for this initiative. IFC’s lighting program in India is supported by the government of United States, Italy, Austria, and Australia.

About Suryoday™ campaign
Suryodaya™ campaign aims to reach out to rural consumers through a 360 degree integrated media approach using traditional as well non-traditional media. This includes outreach through mobile exhibitions, school contact program, community contact program, wall art, radio, and an audio-visual film. The campaign is being supported by a dedicated toll-free number (1800-2121-312) that helps rural consumers in locating the nearest outlet stocking quality assured lights. It also helps them in making an informed choice by addressing their frequently asked questions on solar lights. Suryoday™ campaign has won the gold, silver, and bronze awards at Flame 2014, instituted by the Rural Marketing Association of India to honor excellence in rural marketing.
Watch campaign video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBc3BCNmjYk
Watch award-winning film ‘Suraj ki gullak’ developed as part of the campaign at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kh-Mx2MkpSk

About Lighting Asia/India 
IFC’s Lighting Asia/India program is a market-transforming program aimed at promoting, both in value and presence, modern off-grid lighting among those without grid power in rural India. These include solar lighting appliances, home systems and connections to renewable energy mini-grids. The program is executed through a series of interventions aimed to alter market behavior by addressing the concerns arising from poor products, lack of information on distribution channels, lack of financing for companies and consumers, and lack of awareness that quality solar appliances are affordable, viable solutions. Lighting Asia/India program is working  with industry across the entire value chain.  It is working with manufacturers of solar lighting products to test their products, supporting distributors to penetrate untapped markets; and engaging with consumers through the Suryoday™ consumer awareness campaign to generate awareness and demand.
For more information, visit www.lightingasia.org 

About IFC
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. Working with more than 2,000 businesses worldwide, we use our capital, expertise, and influence, to create opportunity where it’s needed most. In FY15, our long-term investments in developing countries rose to nearly $18 billion, helping the private sector play an essential role in the global effort to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit www.ifc.org

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