Tomina no longer closes her grocery shop when the power goes out | Milaap

Tomina no longer closes her grocery shop when the power goes out

After traveling to Dakshin Barasat and going on many field visits, one thing I can say for certain is that the infrastructure of rural regions in India, is very poor. Although I did see some road construction going on in a few areas, most of the roads are crumbling. The access to energy is also extremely poor. Even while sitting in the offices of DCBS, Milaap’s partner, the power would go out at least once or twice during the day. Often, my colleagues at DCBS would be working on important documents, and all the work would get erased due to a sudden power outage. I came to realize that a weak power grid ends up affecting everyone negatively in some way.
 
In order to supplement the poor electrical infrastructure, the partnership with DCBS and Milaap is working to introduce products that utilize alternative sources of energy to produce light, so people don't have to sit in the dark and wait for the power to come back. Currently, DCBS is connecting Milaap’s lenders to local community members for them to receive loans that will help them purchase SunKing Pro+ solar lanterns, which include a small solar panel that can provide up to 10 hours of continuous light, if charged all day.
 
That day, I was able to meet with a group of women that have received these solar lanterns. When we set off for the group visit I noticed that the DCBS field officer had a box of solar lanterns strapped to his bike, he told me that the demand is so high for lanterns in this particular group that many of the women were asking for more lights.
 
Tomina Mistri, one of the women who had opted for two new lights explained, "The lights are very powerful, and when the current goes out I can also charge my phone through the lamp, which helps when there is an emergency. My husband and I run a small grocery store in the area, and we keep a solar lantern there so in case the power goes out we don't have to close up our shop."
 
Another lady in the group named Muslima Molla told me that she uses her for her children's studies, and is getting another one so she can do her chikan embroidery work at night when there is peace and quiet.
 
Many of the women were eager to take the next step and completely switch to solar power for their energy needs. All of them are fed up with the shoddy electrical grid, and believe that solar energy can be an effective alternative. The ladies wanted to thank Milaap’s lenders and DCBS for providing the opportunity to receive the solar lanterns, and are looking forward to using solar energy for even more purposes.


Tomina Mistri playing with her niece at a group meeting