Lighting the way to a peaceful future through collaborative energy consumption. The world we live in today is defined by the sharing economy – and its poster children, Uber and Airbnb, have become ubiquitous in our everyday lives. But while you book a homestay in Seville on your phone as you wait for an air-conditioned Uber to go home from work, a woman in rural Bangladesh has just moved from using kerosene to electricity to light her home. Through an “Airbnb of energy” model, Barsha* can now consider getting a fan, growing her business, and generating more income through an electricity-powered future.
A young nation, Bangladesh was born out of strife – first carved out of India and then carved out of Pakistan. Development has been slow paced. While 80% of the population live in rural areas, only 25% of the electricity is available for the people – forcing people to rely on hazardous and expensive alternatives.
A Bangladesh-based start-up SOLshare is using a peer to peer network to install microgrids that deliver solar power to rural households and businesses while enabling those with excess energy to trade with others. Things we take for granted are prized assets for such rural households, as one beneficiary said, “Before we got the SOLbox, we only had enough electricity to power the light in one bedroom. We used torchlights or kerosene in the other rooms. But now we can have an extra light for another bedroom!”
But this goes beyond just lighting homes. The future is brighter with lighted schools, playgrounds, and roads that bring development for the whole community. 87% of women in neighboring India feel safer walking in their villages with access to electricity, a powerful indicator of how light can disrupt embedded daily forms of gender inequality.
IIX is proud to work with SOLshare in providing access to affordable clean energy – which opens the door to better health and well-being, living conditions, food security, economic growth, and the security and safety of those most vulnerable to conflict. It is also a foundation for reducing inequalities within a country where almost half of the population lack access to electricity.
*Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.