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Empowerment through a women’s clean energy co-operative in Bihar, India


Indian government data from 2005 shows that almost 90% of households in the state of Bihar are not connected to the conventional grid.  Bihar is also the state with the greatest number of people below the poverty line; people who spend a large portion of their income on kerosene and diesel generators.

In its last REEEP-funded project, SELCO India began replicating its successful solar lighting model in the Munger district of Bihar in partnership with SEWA Bharat, a local organisation working with rural women.

Under that project, SELCO is installing 400 home systems financed by Bihar Kshetriya Gramin Bank (BKGB) via some 40 women’s self-help groups.

This project will now incubate the resulting partnership into an actual cooperative that takes up the energy services business systematically, with a long-term plan for servicing the local communities.



To establish one fully operational women’s energy co-operative as an independent energy services provider to thousands of off-grid households in Bihar.

Main Activities

  • Establish three local Energy Service Centres selling, installing and servicing energy systems
  • Train 20 local technicians to install and maintain energy products over longer term
  • Partner with three local financial institutions to create appropriate financing products
  • Train 500 bankers to take up clean energy financing
  • Develop 50 women entrepreneur-owned micro service centres for mobile phone charging and lighting services on rental in 50 communities
  • Create local-language awareness material

Expected Impact

  • Customised solar lighting and mobile charging systems benefiting over 20,000 people
  • Doorstep access to technology, with finance and service available for 4,000 off-grid households and businesses
  • Employment generated for rural and urban poor women through micro energy-entrepreneurship
  • Financial inclusion of a largely unbanked population
  • Increased capacity in local banks to support improved energy access
  • More reliable connectivity through local mobile phone charging stations
  • Better livelihood and studying opportunities through increased working hours in evening
Programme sector
Renewable Energy (RE) (Business & Finance)
2013 - 2015
€380,000 including co-funding from Energy Service Centre & Energy Project costs
Implementing agency
SELCO Foundation
REEEP grant funded by
United Kingdom