Exiting news: this week for the first time, Local Energy Suppliers connected not because they were approached by us, but because they actively came to a shop to get their subscription!
Last Sunday, two rural Indian villagers came to a local shop themselves to buy a subscription to the Rural Spark energy network. Through their action, these two villagers became the first 2 Local Energy Suppliers that actively went to a shop to buy the subscription whereas until now, Local Energy Suppliers where always approached by Rural Spark and her partners. For Rural Spark this is a new milestone achieved.
In the beginning of May 2014, Rural Spark introduced the first prototype of a pre-paid Rural Spark Energy Router. This router with integrated, remotely controlled, prepaid system has multiple advantages. First of all it reduces the overal system-costs as payments no longer need to be collected each month. This reduces both administrative (identity, whereabouts) and operational (transportation, labor) costs.
Even more important, however, is the way the rural villager became a Local Energy Supplier. Due to the pre-paid router, the Rural Spark Energy Kit is now also available at local shops. Getting a subscription means villagers heading to local shops instead of waiting for our local partners to show up in their villages. This requires villagers to be pro-active in getting their subscription and installing the kit, exactly what Rural Spark is looking for in Local Energy Suppliers, pioneers in growing the Rural Spark energy network.
Currently Rural Spark is still piloting the system (both technically and socially in the context). We'll keep you updated but the first results look promising. On the first day, 2 subscriptions were provided and 10 more rural villagers are waiting for theirs.
After a month, these Local Energy Suppliers will head back to the shop at which they got their subscription to pay for another period of usage - just like topping op the balance of your mobile phone.
With a combination of working through strong local partnerships with access to thousands of villages, and now also the first local shops, Rural Spark is getting clear foot on the ground in the first regions in rural India.
Let's keep the network growing and provide access to clean, safe and sustainable energy for rural India.