Right now, you and I are using something that about 1.6 billion people across the globe have no access to: electricity. Furthermore, another 1 billion have very unreliable access. Kerosene lanterns and battery-powered flashlights have become the main source of light for most of our disadvantaged neighbors. Kerosene lighting presents a problem, however; it’s dangerous and actually expensive to operate. So why use it?
For people with little or no savings and unpredictable incomes, a kerosene lantern becomes a rational choice due to its low initial purchase price. Additionally, consumers can control its brightness and frequency of use.
Simpa Networks is proposing a better and safer option: solar energy. The Bangalore-based company has determined that low income individuals in most developing countries can actually afford a small solar home system if it was priced similarly to kerosene, candles, and the like. Hence, it offers solar energy on a pay-as-you-go basis, where customers pre-pay for the service in 50, 100, or 500 rupee increments via a mobile phone. Each payment also adds towards the final purchase price. Once this amount is reached, the system unlocks for good and provides free energy for the rest of the product’s expected 10-year life.
Simpa’s service is currently only available in the Indian state of Karnataka, but the company plans to expand throughout India and internationally.