Clean-tech as the next big thing in rural India

S&T/Government Programmes/Role of Women and Women’s Organization

 Source: TH

 Context: Women from rural India are adopting clean energy-based livelihood technologies (from solar refrigerators to silk-reeling machines) to catalyse their businesses and transform women’s livelihoods at the grassroots.

Highlights of a study (by CEEW):

  • Out of the 13,000 early adopters of clean tech livelihood appliances, more than 80% are women.
  • Distributed renewable energy (DRE)-powered technologies provide an additional advantage to women farmers by enhancing income opportunities through mechanisation.
  • They also free women from several gender-assigned manual activities that are laborious.
  • By 2030, India is expected to see 30 million women-owned MSMEs employing around 150 million people.


Challenges in scaling up these accomplishments:

  • Novelty and a high starting price of these technologies
  • Perceived as high-risk purchases, especially by women users
  • The relatively lower risk appetite of rural women due to socioeconomic reasons
  • Limited avenues to avail financing
  • Lack of established market linkages
  • Limited mobility/networks of women outside their villages

 Way ahead – How to scale up this impact?

  • Leverage the experience of early women adopters.
  • Organise hyperlocal events and demos – create spaces for women to network, and become aware.
  • Enable easy finance to purchase products. Financiers should consider the technologies themselves as collateral while easing the loan application process.
  • Ensure adequate after-sales services and buy-backs.
  • Support backwards and forward market linkage – finding and connecting producers to consumption hubs in urban areas.
  • Collectivising women or establishing business models that enable them to sell to an intermediary can ensure a regular revenue stream.
  • Enable policy convergence. Efforts towards promoting livelihoods for women from State rural livelihood missions, agriculture departments, etc., must be converged.
  • Leveraging the reach of government institutions is imperative.

Best practice: Kissan Dharmbir, an energy-efficient food processor manufacturer, engaged an Agra-based micro-entrepreneur using the processor to produce jams, as a demo champion.

Conclusion: Similar to how it takes a village to raise a child, a village of politicians, investors, financiers, and technology promoters, is required to fully realise the potential of rural women and clean technologies.


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