Grameen Shakti first won an Ashden Award in 2006 for providing photovoltaic solar-home-systems through affordable loans to 65,000 households in Bangladesh. These systems power clean lights that replace smoky, dangerous kerosene lamps, communications (especially mobile phone charging), radio, and sometimes TV too. This substantial number was achieved because users were able to purchase their systems on micro-credit, with affordable terms tailored to their specific needs. Grameen Shakti managed a revolving credit fund for this, financed through the Infrastructure Development Company which receives grants and loans from multilateral donors.
The work grew and diversified. By 2008 when Grameen Shakti collected an Ashden Outstanding Achievement award, its solar installations had more than doubled to 150,000. It had also diversified into providing clean cooking solutions, with 14,000 cheap, efficient cooking stoves and 3,000 biogas plants sold. Work on this scale provides a lot of employment, much of it in rural areas, with a total of 2,000 staff and 400 local offices. Trained technicians, mostly women, manufactured components in 20 technology centres, and installed and serviced systems. Some of these technicians had become independent entrepreneurs.
And the numbers keep on doubling: 300,000 solar-home-systems, 35,000 stoves and 9,000 biogas plants by the end of 2009, and 600,000 solar-home-systems by May 2011.
(our earlier film of the work of Grameen Shakti is in its 2006 database entry)