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Aryavart Gramin Bank, India

Bank helps customers to buy solar home systems

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PV array on the roof of a branch of the AG Bank, providing backup in case of power cuts

It is not only technology companies that are pivotal in the spread of sustainable energy. Banks are critical too. In Uttar Pradesh, the Aryavart Gramin Bank has provided the finance for solar photovoltaic systems, bringing lighting to 28,000 rural families across the state by 2009.

The impetus for the bank’s initiative came from its own need to tackle the problem of an unreliable mains supply. Having installed solar backup power units in its own branches, it recognised the potential for its customers who depend on kerosene lights – and the potential for it to provide a commercially profitable service. Credit camps were set up in villages to explain how the financing would work and loans were offered with an initial deposit of 20% and five year repayment terms. The repayment costs are covered by the cost savings on kerosene.

The benefits are human – better, less polluted and more reliable lighting – and economic, as people have more capacity for income generating activity. The environmental benefits are also considerable with CO2 savings of over 6000 tonnes/year. And for the Aryavart Gramin Bank the project makes good business sense. A reminder that sustainability’s success will be driven ultimately by its ability, in the long-term, to benefit everybody.