Focusing on Integrated Energy Centres
Globally, cities represent economic growth, prosperity and new opportunities. Yet simultaneous to the rise of cities is urban sprawl and the exponential growth of the urban poor. Between 2001 and 2011, the number of slum dwellers in Bangalore rose from 23% to 40% of the total urban population (official data which is considered to underestimate reality). Across Bangalore alone, there remain more than 100 similar migrant slum communities that could utilize and benefit from the IEC intervention. Energy poverty and access to basic services is increasingly understood as one of the core feedback loops that reinforces income poverty, a significant problem in many global cities in the emerging world.
In 2013-14 Integrated Energy Centres served over 700 families in migrant slum communities.
The IEC model has matured over the past several years from ideation, pilots and into model solutions, undergoing impact and performance assessments, strong partnerships and adoption by other entities and individuals. An average IEC reaches a minimum of 60-100 families in slums that range from 150 to 200 households, and there remains considerable potential to scale the reach of IECs and the range of services offered. Because of the considerable market size for IECs, two local entrepreneurs have been successfully financed to invest, operate and expand their IECs and become leaders in their community.
Integrated Energy Centre intervention has strong processes for community identification and needs assessment, entrepreneur and operator training, installation and management support, and development of local financial linkages. Several basic services like lighting and mobile phone charging can be implemented with immediate impact and low transaction and installation costs. Additional services relating to health, water, education and livelihood generation require greater community engagement and awareness.
Our organization looks at scale with nuance, requiring responsibility and strategic clarity in expanding our work. We do not see scale as the only way to achieve impact, instead, we also work with NGOs, social enterprises and individuals to adopt our solutions through collaboration, replication or knowledge-sharing. We are in the process of developing support mechanisms for local IEC micro-entrepreneurs that would make additional energy services more financially sustainable in the long term. Although we are constantly trying out new methods, designs and services, we do not immediately impose goals for scale or growth. Instead, across our work we strive for a cohesive vision, medium-term implementation plans and enough potential for impact to commit resources for learning and development. We strive to establish and mature our projects into proven solutions, sharing our learning of successes and failures.
A version of this piece was first written for the SELCO Foundation Annual Report 2013-14.