Pollinate Energy Bringing Affordable Light, Energy and Clean Water to Low Income Areas in India and Nepal

A social business employing low-income locals to sell affordable, sustainable household products is changing the everyday lives of disadvantaged urban and rural communities.
Oct 11, 2018 10:50 AM ET
Press Release

BANGALORE, India, October 11, 2018 /3BL Media/ – Pollinate Energy is improving the lives of India’s urban and Nepal’s rural poor by giving them access to sustainable everyday household products and empowering local entrepreneurs. The social enterprise joins the Business Call to Action (BCtA) with a pledge to reach an additional 500,000 people amongst India’s and Nepal’s poorest by employing an extra 400 female sales people, called Pollinators, to sell 100,000 sustainable solar lamps, clean cookstoves and water filters by 2020. 

Launched in 2008, BCtA aims to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by challenging companies to develop inclusive business models that engage people with less than US$10 per day in purchasing power (in 2015 dollars) as consumers, producers, suppliers and distributors. Over 200 companies, ranging from multinationals to social enterprises, and working in 68 countries, have responded to the BCtA by committing to improve the lives and livelihoods of millions in developing countries through access to markets, financial services, affordable healthcare, water and sanitation, education and other critical services.

Sixty-five million people living in India’s city slums, and 24 million across rural Nepal, rely on kerosene and open wood-fires for light and cooking, without access to electricity grids or water infrastructure. Many live in self-constructed tarpaulin and mud huts, and earn less than US$1.50 per person per day, without access to financial services.

Pollinate Energy saw both a need and a business niche in this harsh reality, and what began as a trial distributing solar lights in a northern Bangalore makeshift community to replace dangerous, unhealthy and costly kerosene quickly developed into a thriving social business with hubs in five major Indian cities. Crucial to its success are the locally-hired Pollinators, or sales agents, who sell their products.

“At the heart of our social business is our network of employed Pollinators who go door-to-door increasing people’s understanding of sustainability, safety and better health at the same time as selling our safe solar lamps, clean water filters and cookstoves. Pollinators are crucial to our business as they are members of these communities, full of local knowledge and eager to work. They build trust in our products, as well as our mobile phone payment app, which allows gradual payment and makes our products more affordable for low-income people who tend to avoid financial risk.” said Pollinate Energy’s CEO Alexie Seller.

Pollinate Energy recently merged with US and Nepal based Empower Generation, allowing the organisation to scale more efficiently, yielding greater financial and operational sustainability by joining forces. Together, they have already provided access to sustainable products to over 500,000 people across India and Nepal. The distribution of a total of almost 100,000 sustainable technologies has saved families over AUD 7 million in household energy expenses and displaced 24,546 tonnes of CO2 by replacing kerosene and candles.

As part of its BCtA pledge and commitment to gender equality, more than half of the positions created by 2020 will be filled by women.

“Pollinate Energy’s innovative business model does more than provide smart and sustainable products to low-income communities; it also empowers them. The employment opportunities offered to Pollinators will better livelihoods, while the job training and knowledge about health and clean energy improves lives in the long-term. This model will be passed on from Pollinators to other people, spreading sustainable concepts even further,” said Paula Pelaez, Head of Business Call to Action.

For further information: 

BCtA Secretariat: bcta@undp.org
Pollinate Energy: media@pollinateenergy.org

BCtA membership does not constitute a partnership with its funding and programme partners, UNDP or any UN agency.

About Business Call to Action (BCtA): 

Launched at the United Nations in 2008, BCtA aims to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by challenging companies to develop inclusive business models that offer the potential for both commercial success and development impact. BCtA is supported by  the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), UK Department for International Development (DFID), and hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). For more information, please visit http://www.businesscalltoaction.org/

About Pollinate Energy: 

Pollinate Energy is a multi-award winning social business headquartered in Bangalore, India. With a global team based in India, Nepal, Australia and North America, it currently operates in six cities across India and two districts in rural Nepal. Pollinate Energy delivers impact by selling its sustainable products that improve the lives of people living in the urban slums and rural communities.