An increasing number of rural Indian women are using sustainable energy-based livelihood solutions to launch their own companies. Locally, the way that women make a living is changing thanks to distributed renewable energy (DRE) technologies such bulk milk chillers, solar freezers, and reeling equipment for silk.
The role DRE plays in transforming the lives of women:
According to a recent survey by the Council on Energy, Environment, and Water, more than 80% of the 13,000 early adopters of clean technology work appliances are women (CEEW). DRE-powered technologies boost earning options through mechanisation, giving female farmers and microentrepreneurs a competitive edge. Also, they relieve women of numerous physically taxing tasks that are unique to their gender.
The 30 million women-owned small, medium-sized businesses in India are projected to employ 150 million people by 2030. (MSMEs). Sustainable livelihood technologies have the power to change rural livelihoods, placing women at the centre of this shift. There is a $50 billion market opportunity in India alone.
But how can we reach millions of women rather than just a small number? The following main actions provide a summary of the efforts made by the Powering Livelihoods programme to reach rural women.
Start by listening to early female adopters’ suggestions. Digital appliances are seen as high-risk purchases due to their novelty and high initial expenditures, especially by female consumers who, due to socioeconomic factors, have a substantially lower risk appetite.
Early adopters can use their reputation and in-depth product knowledge to serve as demo champions or sales reps to promote these items and inform potential customers about their experiences. Technology vendors must employ early adopters.
Funding and the importance of live events:
Next, organise hyperlocal protests and actions. Before putting their trust in a high-tech, expensive product’s capabilities and advantages, consumers want to touch and examine it, especially in the case of women who have historically had less access to new knowledge.
Moreover, networking opportunities, product awareness, and contacts with those who can assist women in obtaining, financing, and using these devices are provided by these gatherings.
How to obtain funding:
Make it simple to finance the purchase of products. The absence of funding sources for these clean technology items remains a constraint. Financial institutions that help women who own small companies and farms should treat the technology as collateral while accelerating the loan application procedure.
Technology developers and supporters should also pledge to provide plenty of after-sales assistance and buy-backs. Advocates must make data available and provide guarantees against partial default in order to persuade financiers that these technologies are economically viable.
Fourth, encourage cross-market contacts. In some cases, providing technology alone is insufficient. The market potential for many rural items is greater. To increase profits, it is crucial to locate and link manufacturing with urban consumption centres.
Due to their restricted mobility and lack of networks outside of their own areas, women frequently struggle with established commercial interactions. In this situation, creating business concepts that let women sell to middlemen or paying them can provide a steady income stream.
Fifth, support the convergence of policies. It is essential to utilise government organisations’ reach in order to grow exponentially because no private sector organisation has their size and scope. The State Rural Livelihood Missions, Horticulture and Agricultural Departments, Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Businesses, and Ministry of Textiles are just a few of the Ministries supporting women’s livelihoods. They ought to use renewable energy sources to achieve their own initiatives and goals.
Similar to how it takes a village to raise a child, a village of legislators, investors, financiers, technology promoters, and other ecosystem facilitators is required to increase the influence of sustainable energy solutions on women’s livelihoods. Only then will we be able to fully realise the promise of rural women and clean technologies.