Harish Hande, the co-founder of SELCO Solar Light Pty. Ltd has been named one of the five individuals and one organisation to win the 2011 Ramon Magsaysay Award. Established in 1957, this award is Asia’s highest honor and is widely regarded as the region’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize.
Hande spoke about his business model at a REEEP-ESMAP side event at the Delhi International Renewable Energy Conference in October 2010.
Hande is the co-founder of SELCO, a social venture to eradicate poverty by promoting sustainable technologies in rural India; and a venture REEEP has supported in three different projects to date. According to Carmencita T. Abella, President of the Awards Foundation, Hande is being recognized for “his passionate and pragmatic efforts to put solar power technology in the hands of the poor, through a social enterprise that brings customized, affordable, and sustainable electricity to India’s vast rural populace, encouraging the poor to become asset creators.”
With its headquarters in Bangalore, SELCO has 25 branches in the Indian states of Karnataka and Gujarat, and has installed solar lighting systems in over 120,000 households there. REEEP has been a strong supporter of SELCO in its development, and has funded several intitiatives with the company. A sixth call project looked at linking energy services with income generation, and a seventh call project replicated this innovative approach. A third project being financed in the 8th programme cycle will widen the scope to Bihar, southern Gujarat and northern Karnataka states.
The Magsaysay Award is the latest of many accolades for Hande: he has previously won the Ashden Award for Sustainable Energy in 2005 and the Ashden Outstanding Achievement Award in 2007, and was named Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2007 by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship and the Nand & Jeet Khemka Foundation. In 2008, Harish Hande was chosen by Business Today as one of the 21 young leaders for India’s 21st century, and in mid 2008, India Today named him one of the 50 pioneers of change in India.