Clean-tech as the next big thing in rural India

Source– The post is based on the article “Clean-tech as the next big thing in rural India” published in The Hindu on 4th March 2023.

Syllabus: GS3- Social empowerment

Relevance: Use of technology for empowering women

News- Distributed renewable energy (DRE) is transforming women’s livelihoods at the grassroots.

What is the potential of clean technologies for women’s livelihoods?

A recent Council on Energy, Environment and Water study has shown that out of the 13,000 early adopters of clean tech appliances, more than 80% are women.

Renewable energy­ powered technologies provide an additional advantage to women farmers and microentrepreneurs by enhancing income opportunities through mechanisation. They also free women from several gender assigned manual activities that are laborious.

By 2030, India is expected to see 30 million women ­owned MSMEs, employing around 150 million people. Renewable energy livelihood technologies have the potential to transform rural livelihoods, with women at the core of this transition.

What is the way forward to utilise the full potential of clean technologies for the livelihood of women?

First, leverage the experience of early women adopters. DRE appliances are perceived as high risk purchases, especially by women users due to socio economic reasons.

Technology providers must leverage early users to share their experiences with potential customers

Second, organise local events and demos. People want to see a high­tech product before believing in its ability and promised benefits, especially women. They historically have limited access to new information.

These events also create spaces for women to network, become aware of the product and connect with people. It can help them procure, finance and use these machines.

Third, enable easy finance to purchase products. Financiers supporting women farmers and micro entrepreneurs should consider the technologies themselves as collaterals while easing the loan application process.

Technology manufacturers and promoters should also ensure adequate after sales service and buy backs. To build financiers’ confidence, evidence on the economic viability of these technologies should be shared.

Fourth, support backwards and forward market linkages. Only technology provision is not enough in all cases. Many rural products have larger market potential. Thus, finding and connecting producers to consumption hubs in urban areas are equally important to generate higher incomes.

Women often struggle with established market linkages because of their limited mobility and networks outside their villages. Collectivising women or establishing business models that enable them to sell to an intermediary can ensure a regular revenue stream.

Fifth, enable policy convergence. No private sector entity has the kind of reach and scale possessed by government institutions. So, it is important to leverage their reach.

Multiple Ministries are working towards promoting livelihoods for women. They should embrace clean energy solutions to further their respective programmes and outcomes.

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