What really happens in the field
Join a virtual tour through some of the villages Rural Spark is active and hear about some personal stories from actual Local Energy Suppliers. This is where it really happens.
Bankey Bazar, Bihar.
This cluster of villages is located near Gaya and the more famous Bodhgaya where Siddhārtha Gautama obtained Enlightenment and became Buddha. In Bankey Bazar, grid electricity is available but with only limited hours of availability, it is not reliable at all. Rural Spark, through their Local Energy Suppliers who offer energy to their fellow villagers, provides energy on a reliable base. The model does not only provide them an (additional) income, it also establishes a certain social position within the village, increasing their confidence. Interesting detail is that most of the Local Energy Suppliers in Bankey Bazar are women.
Learn about some personal stories and background of a few of the Local Energy Suppliers.
A CHANGE IN PEOPLES LIFE
Visiting the Rural Spark Local Energy Suppliers in the Bankey Bazar cluster is impressive as the effect of the solutions actually comes to life. You’ll find all of the Local Energy Suppliers expressing the additional income that comes through renting out lamps has been helpful. True, a very realistic figure would show that they gain around 300-400 INR (after paying their monthly installments) on an average therefore making it clear that the sum is not that huge to transform their lives completely or be such that they could depend on this as a source of income only.
However, as demand increases, so will their income. With the new kit (allowing for more different applications to be charged, improving the business model on the village level) we typically see the income increase to around 1.000 INR. And yes, in terms of gaining respect and networking, and making friends, helping children study for longer periods, it has obviously helped a lot. It has on a whole made the village more interactive where people are coming together and interacting more.
Rina & Rita
When virtually going through Bankey Bazar, let’s first meet Rina and Rita. They are the central spill in Bankey Bazar, serving as field executives for Rural Spark. They both live in one of the villages of Bankey Bazar. Rina and Rita both are very independent women, Rita’ s husband works locally while Rita’s husband works in another city. Education of children are their priority in life and they want the children to get into better jobs in future. They both have been working from a young age mostly with NGOs and village level federations conducting Self Help Group (SHG) meetings and mobilising the community. They are strong community leaders in their region.
Rina and Rita are not only local energy suppliers from the first hours but also work as Field Executive in Rural Spark. They both manage the entire process right from the registration of a new customer to rent and supplying products and spare-parts. Since a year ago they run the operations for supplying energy via the Rural Spark solution. Together with our field expert, they have been able to set up a warehouse for storage of goods, inventory, and returned products. They develop a system to make sure the numbers of the warehouse are always correct and where materials are in the field. Besides that, they also organise the money collection. A high level of micro management is present here, and we could clearly see how proud the two women are of running the operations to make sure energy becomes available. This has boosted their self-confidence. Their networks have expanded and they have become confident enterprising women.
After running several businesses, from Flour Mill to Chai Shops, Ravikant Verma now runs a small convenience store next to his home in Gaya, Bihar. Being present in his shop all day, he has also become a Rural Spark Energy Supplier. And well, quite a Local Energy Supplier he is. Ravikant runs not less than 4 Energy Kits through which he lends out 60 lamps to his fellow villagers, while also providing mobile phone charging for a small fee.
Running a business comes naturally for Ravikant. As soon as he learned about the Rural Spark Energy Kit, he came up with their owns ways to earn profit out of it. Lending lamps to street vendors, charging mobile phones, designing a special package for students during exams were some ways they discovered on their own. Initially he started with just one Energy Kit and 15 lamps, but as he discovered more ways to earn through them, he started adding more kits.
His entrepreneurial intelligence also motivated his wife to start a small business with the savings he has accumulated over time by operating the Rural Spark Energy Kits. Babita, his wife, now runs a cosmetic cum tailoring shop and almost 70% of the investment in the new shop comes from the savings through the Rural Spark Energy Kit, Ravikant confirms.
Ravikant now started to experiment with operating a video parlour where he would be running a Television, during cricket matches or movies evenings. Also, he rents out the Rural Spark lights for special festivals using Rural Spark Energy Cubes to power them during the event.
Together with rural grid expansion
As said, there is grid electricity available. Interesting here is to see the response to the grid when it arrives. This phenomena can probably be show best in a graph (see above). Many people stopped using the products from the local energy supplier when it was announced the grid was coming. They could see electricity poles being erected. This hope created a drop in demand. However, after a few weeks, it turned out that the grid was not delivering it promises and the demand increased again for the off-grid products. The Rural Spark Energy Kit allows for capturing the grid power when available, as Rural Spark believes in a hybrid model where grid- and off-grid (sustainable) solutions together provide a reliable network where rural villages could actually contribute significantly to the serious (and increasing) energy deficit in India.
Having access to energy, aspirations increase. Fans and TVs are increasingly in demand. They expect us to diversify ourselves in products for sure. Fan and TV are the main demands. Luckily the new Rural Spark Energy Kit will actually address this demand, allowing it to run both 5V as well as 12V applications like TVs and larger fans.