Selco has faced some significant challenges, as you might imagine. Here we talk about some of the second-phase obstacles that Selco is in some ways still working to overcome.
SM: Were there any other obstacles that stand out? HH: Another obstacle we faced was making the transition from solar lighting to solar power. One of the barriers people felt was how do you connect something like solar lighting into income generation, and how is that linked to the market. That linkage is what had to be done. Doing so helped us go into the poorer sections, because we needed even more innovative financing for the areas which had very little income. We had to show that power was going to give them income.
SM: Tell us about some of the human impact case studies of your work, using the chain you described. HH: We had been working with traditional banking mechanisms until 2001 and 2002 when we realized we had to be even more innovative with financing. Since we had been working with traditional banking we were able to get introduced to different banks in 2004 and 2005.
We were able to get introduced into banks which worked with Global Banking rather than microfinance banks. If major banks get involved with financing energy services it would mean that the rest of the world would look at us differently. A big deal for us occurred when Sewa supported us, because they have a national brand and good financial products. The flexibility which comes with financing is key. We believe our product is a mix between technology and financing.
How flexible you are to the need of the end user with technology should be mirrored in financing. This philosophy also helped us look beyond just solar in terms of energy services, and from there we were able to launch ourselves as a one stop energy services organization. We look at a house and think of it as a black box, and then look at it in terms of what energy services we can deliver to it.