Planet & Climate

Harish Hande


Building economic power with renewables

Energy, if you're lucky, is everywhere. It powers our homes, schools, health centers and businesses. Yet, today in India there are more than 300 million people living off the grid. Without access to reliable energy, the majority of them are forced to live in absolute poverty. Harish's SELCO Foundation helps diagnose rural entrepreneurs' challenges and engineers efficient tech solutions powered with solar. From solar rice mills, to milking machines and pottery wheels - thousands of rural small businesses across India now run on decentralized renewable energy. SELCO also partners with banks to create financial products that match the cash flow of the poor. Finally, they help ensure the businesses' success rates by linking them to market opportunities. Together this trifecta of interventions not only gives India's poorest access to clean energy, it also drastically improves their livelihoods and helps them become bankable and credit-worthy.


Impacting more than 1 million poor households across 6 Indian states

Partnering with 25+ local financial institutions to provide low-interest capital to rural entrepreneurs

Catalyzing 100+ entrepreneurial projects running on solar power over the last 3 years

Creating 6+ hubs of replication across Africa and South East Asia

Interesting fact from Harish:

"Everybody today is talking about too big to fail. We need to re-frame the focus from “too big to fail,” to “too valuable to fail.” Small enterprises and entrepreneurs in India are from, and serve, the poorer sectors. The fact that they are decentralized makes them more agile. We need to make sure that they do not collapse otherwise all other services will get very expensive for the poor. They are too valuable to fail."