This is one of those stories about results exceeding dreams and expectations and the telling of it only fills one with pride and sense of genuine achievement. When the tribal families of Gumla dreamed of having electricity through the day, which most of us simply take for granted, little did they think that much more was in store for them than just the fulfilment of this modest dream.
Ironically enough, Gumla belongs to an area which has always been rich in mining deposits. But not surprisingly, the tribal families living in this area barely manage to keep body and soul together. Tired of spending most of the evenings in unremitting darkness, 120 tribal families of Gumla had got together in their determination to install a solar power grid in the village and improve the quality of their lives with the help of MLINDA.
The story took an even happier turn after this grid was set up! With the generous contributions from Milaap's lenders, not only did MLINDA set up solar microgrids to supply energy to these households, they were also able to consolidate this feat with the supplying of much-needed economic impetus. MLINDA realised that for development to truly take place, they must also support other establishments such as small businesses, schools, hospitals etc. As a result, the household electricity got subsidized due to the scale of supply (with commercial establishments coming under the same microgrid, cost per unit reduced for households). Furthermore, small shops were able to buy electricity through ‘smart cards’ which let them pay for their utilization and also act as a rationing system. Unlike traditional government lines, this also guards against pilferage. As far as agriculture is concerned, this paddy-growing area which was able to sell unpolished rice to middlemen at a mere Rs. 10/kg with electricity supply, has started using rice hullers which allow them to remove the ‘husk’ from paddy. This husk has its own value. They can now sell this refined paddy at Rs. 30/kg. Additionally, irrigation pumps have also benefited from the grid; they have been customized for higher efficiency. So heartening has been the range of these positive spillover effects that MLINDA decided to help the families even further and have set up small collectives for the families to sell produce.