Lighting a Billion Lives (LaBL)
"Lighting a Billion Lives" initiative aims to bring clean and affordable lighting to a billion people across the world who do not have access to electricity. A majority of these people rely on kerosene and other fuels to meet their lighting needs, which is hazardous to both their health and to the environment. The campaign provides clean energy for impoverished communities through market based pro-poor business models.

The campaign employs an "entrepreneurial model" of last mile energy delivery to establish micro solar-enterprises in un-electrified or poorly electrified villages. A local entrepreneur trained by TERI and its partner organizations provides clean energy access to the community at an affordable fee. The technology (reliable, light in weight, robust, and energy efficient with LED lighting) and service delivery is ensured by the cluster level Energy Entrepreneurs who work closely with Village Level Entrepreneurs, who in turn own and operate energy service delivery options such as Solar Micro-grids and solar lantern Charging Stations.

The initiative has contributed to the development of several "first-of-its kind features", ranging from implementing solar charging stations on a large scale to introducing and promoting LED lanterns; creating village-level distribution network of solar enterprises; engaging self-help groups; and creating after-sales service network in villages through Energy Enterprises. In addition, LaBL has helped extend the mobile phone charging facility through solar charging stations. It has also designed and developed an online Project Management System, which has facilitated end-to-end mapping, starting from identification of villages to its post-implementation monitoring.

To support "sustainability" of rural energy projects, LaBL employs a network of local-level institutions which facilitate micro-implementation of project deliverables, carry out training and capacity building, and ensure after-sales services. TERI realized the need for creating a new institution, which it calls Energy Enterprises (Uttam Urja Shops). An Energy Enterprise (EE) is a local-level enterprise that caters to after-sales service support to LaBL solar charging stations (SCSs) and is also authorized to market and sell TERI-approved clean energy products such as solar lights and improved cook-stoves in a specified area. Apart from providing next door and reliable after-sales support, the EE also assists in creating local capacities of rural youth for the execution of other energy access projects in the area.

LaBL has shown how partnerships with public & private enterprises can support developmental schemes and initiatives, particularly in the area of rural energy access. To finance the campaign, TERI moved from the initial grant-based model to an entrepreneurial fee-for-service delivery approach, then gradually moving to a more flexible equity and investment-based model. By demonstrating credibility through results on the ground and proof of the concept, this process has helped address two key challenges: outreach and sustainability. LaBL offers financial viability to attract equity along with technology customization and an effective monitoring mechanism.

The campaign has also attained global success due to its ingenuity and its cascading effects.
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