Grameen Shakti, Bangladesh
Rapidly growing solar installer also provides clean cooking
Despite significant advances, over 50% of households in Bangladesh, mostly in rural areas, were still not connected to the electricity grid in 2010. And nearly 90% of households used solid fuels, yet only 2% had access to improved stoves. Grameen Shakti was set up as a not-for-profit in 1996 to bring modern energy services to such households, by providing both energy technology (solar-home-systems for electricity, improved stoves and biogas for cooking) and affordable finance, at a local level.
When Grameen Shakti first won an Ashden Award in 2006 it had sold about 65,000 solar-home systems: these power electric lights that replace smoky, dangerous kerosene lamps; communications (especially mobile phone charging); radio and sometimes TV too. In 2008 when Grameen Shakti collected an Outstanding Achievement award, this number of solar-home-systems had more than doubled to 150,000. In addition it had sold and installed 14,000 improved cooking stoves and 3,000 biogas plants, which cut fuelwood use and smoke in homes.
These impressive numbers now look small! By the end of 2012, sales of solar home systems had exceeded one million, with stoves not far behind at 590,000 and 24,000 biogas plants, and the numbers keep on growing. Around 8 million people benefit from the systems, and over 1 million tonnes of CO2e are saved each year.
How has this sustained growth been achieved? A major reason is that Grameen Shakti provides affordable micro-finance and service as well as technology, and does this through a network of over 1,200 local branches that are easily accessible to customers throughout Bangladesh. Work on this scale provides much-needed rural employment, with a total of 12,000 staff and over 17,000 trained technicians. A number of these technicians, mostly women, manufacture components in 46 Grameen Technology Centres, and some have become independent entrepreneurs.
(our earlier film of the work of Grameen Shakti is in its 2006 database entry)