Solar is the way | Milaap

Solar is the way

It has been more than six months for me as a Milaap fellow in the state of Bihar. I have been travelling and meeting people (Borrowers) and witnessing the changes brought by Milaap loans in their lives.  During this period I met hundreds of borrowers and could easily see the changes happened in their lives after they chose to go the solar way with Milaap loans. Bihar is always considered as one of the most backward states in India and it is evident once you go to the rural areas and remote villages where people are still waiting for electricity. Although the state has achieved a phenomenal growth rate in the last decade but there is lot to be done to catch up with the other states in the country.India is the latest in a string of markets to witness a solar energy boom. Solar power currently accounts for just over one percent of India’s total installed power capacity of 261 gigawatts (GW) and the government’s new target is to add a staggering 100 GW of solar capacity by 2022.  Total installed solar power capacity in India as on 11 June 2015 is around 4 gigawatts (GW) and by the end of this year India may break into the top 10 solar power markets, in terms of installed capacity.[caption id="attachment_7534" align="alignnone" width="2048"]Divya with her students Divya with her students[/caption]Meet Divya (in the middle), she is pursuing her graduation degree (very few girls have this privilege of getting a graduation degree in her village) from a college which is 20 kilometres from her home. She does not attend college on a regular basis as there is a lack of transportation facilities between her home and her college. Although she has a keen interest in studying, the infrastructure does not allow her to pursue it. She lives in a village which has no electricity supply. So the dependency on an alternative source of light is a must. Her family installed a solar home lighting system with the help of a Milaap loan. And when I asked her “Why solar?” She said that it is less expensive as compared to other alternatives like kerosene and battery operated emergency lights, and is much safer and cleaner. She conducts coaching classes for kids in the village.[caption id="attachment_7535" align="alignnone" width="2592"]Roshan, Sunil & Akash (from left to right) Roshan, Sunil & Akash (from left to right)[/caption]Roshan (left most), Sunil (in the middle) and Akash (right most) are the kids I met in a village in Nawada district during my field visit. They all have dreams. Roshan wants to be a doctor, Sunil is very shy but when I asked him what he wanted to be, he replied, “cricketer” with a smile, and Akash wants to be an engineer and construct big buildings (the ones he sees on the cover of books or notebooks). So what is common among these three kids? They all have a dream, the area they live in lacks electricity supply, and solar energy is helping them achieve their dreams.[caption id="attachment_7536" align="alignnone" width="2048"]Rinke Devi in her shop Rinke Devi in her shop[/caption]Rinke Devi runs a small general store where she mainly sells cosmetic products like cream, powder, bangles etc. The store is small and so is the income she generates from it. Her shop is in the middle of the market and the area gets more than 15 hours of power supply. But she does not have an electric connection there and when I asked her the reason, she told me, “Since my store is in the middle of the market, I need to have a commercial connection. For that I have to make a one-time initial payment of Rs. 3000, and even the cost per unit for a commercial connection is higher than the household connection.” So a loan from Milaap helped her to install a solar lighting system in her shop and now she can save that extra money and utilise it on something else.The reason I chose to highlight these stories is simple. These loans are often very basic in comparison to some of the other loans you might see: stocks for a shop, funds to buy land etc. The story however, is much larger. It’s the story of changing lives.I always wondered how far microcredit actually helped alleviate the lives of the poor. The reason I say my fellowship is rewarding is because I had all these questions answered through my eyes and ears in the process of being Milaap’s eyes and ears on field.Milaap is changing lives and I feel proud to be a part of it, a Milaapi.