Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?
According to the International Energy Agency, 1.5 billion people, or 22% of the world’s population, are without access to electricity, 85% of which are in rural areas. Almost 50% of the developing world’s population – 2.5 billion people – lack improved sanitation facilities, and over 884 million people still use unsafe drinking water sources. The indoor air pollution caused from the burning of solid fuels through cooking is linked to the deaths of over 1.6 million people, predominately women and children, each year.
The other challenge is on the local level. Many grassroots community based organizations (CBOs) have a real desire to start energy access outlets. However, in setting up social ventures they face three hurdles: labor, knowledge, and financing. First, CBOs tend to have a large program of activities, ranging from education to social work. With a small staff, it is difficult to implement a new business, which requires full-time attention. Second, CBOs have been working within the non-profit field their whole existence and learning how to run a business requires a different kind of skill set, such as inventory, accounting, operations, marketing, and etc. Third, CBOs generally do not have a lot of funding to operate their programs, and are thus cash-strapped. Launching a business takes money, yet if a CBO does not have the investment to run it, the business will remain a vision and not a reality.
Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!
However, simple solutions exist to these problems. High quality low-cost eco-friendly household health products such as solar lights, water filters, and improved cookstoves are being manufactured, but there is real lack of supply chains for these types of products in developing countries, especially in rural areas. Single manufacturers of innovative low-cost technologies are creating their own distribution channels or are channeling through large non-profit agencies; thus the rural market is accessing only some technologies and not others. The most sustainable way to bring these products to the rural poor is through retail, particularly retail through organizations that rural customers know and trust. But rather than endorsing products that agencies consider right for the communities, local people - especially the poor, should have a choice in deciding which product technologies are right for them.
In 2012, ENVenture plans to pilot with Joint Energy and Environment Projects in Uganda and replicate it's original project in India with the Auroville Village Action Group.