Grameen Shakti (GS) has developed one of the most successful market based programs with a social objective for popularizing Solar Home Systems (SHSs) including other renewable energy technologies to millions of rural villagers.
Currently GS is one of the largest and fastest growing rural based renewable energy companies in the world. In addition, Bangladesh is a country with one of the most successful renewable energy programs in the world. As of December 2009, GS has installed more than 3,20,000 SHSs in rural areas with more than 12,000 SHSs installed per month. This success especially was the result of unique approach, blending market and social forces together to take world's most up to date technology to the rural people.
Initial Challenges faced by GS were
Lack of rural network
No knowledge or awareness among the rural people
Lack of trained manpower
High upfront cost of renewable energy technologies
Lack of sources of fund GS
GS used its Grameen Bank's experience to evolve a financial package based of installment payment which reduced costs and helped it reach economy of scale. GS had to earn the goodwill of the rural people and provide excellent after sales services to ensure the success of its program. GS engineers are also called social engineers. GS engineers trained women technicians and providet them with employment, managed a scholarship program for school children, they collected damaged batteries to ensure that these do not hurt the environment. GS engineers paid monthly visits to households during installment payment and ready to offer their services with a small fee, after a client signed an annual maintenance agreement with GS.
GS solar PV program really took off the ground when rural clients realized SHSs were more cost effective than other conventional sources of energy such as kerosene and provided more utilities.