Frontier Markets: The female face of clean energy in India

In India, villages are dispersed and the terrain is rugged with patchy roads. Despite these challenges, Frontier Markets focuses on reaching the poorest and most remote areas. The business offers a unique distribution model to provide high quality solar lamps and other solar systems to hard-to-reach villages, using a network of trained women called Solar Sahelis to be the face of their marketing and after-sales service. To date, Frontier Markets has sold over 127,000 clean energy products in Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh.

By May 2016 about 70,000 torches, 45,000 lamps and 12,000 solar home lighting systems had been sold. Frontier Markets estimates that, for around 70% of sales, women make the purchasing decision or are the main users of the products.

Solar systems making cooking and studying easier, providing brighter, less smoky light than kerosene lamps. Robust, long-range torches are particularly popular with women, for moving around outside after dark and checking livestock. Solar torches are brighter and more reliable than battery-powered torches, and save users from running down phone batteries through using mobile phones for outdoor light.

The cost of a single light product can be recovered within three to six months, through savings of typically US$3/month on kerosene and dry cell batteries. Cutting kerosene use reduces greenhouse gas emissions by about 12,000 tonnes/year CO2, as well as cutting indoor air pollution and fire risk in homes. To encourage people to give up kerosene, a Frontier Markets pilot programme gave a discount on a solar product to anyone who handed in a kerosene lamp. Around 50,000 customers took up this offer!

Find out more about Frontier Markets here.