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Empowering Women through Solar Innovations: How India’s Solar Push Catalyzes Micro-Entrepreneurship Opportunities

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In India’s pursuit of achieving 500 GW of electricity generation capacity from non-fossil sources by 2030, solar power has emerged as a potent force for change. This transition to renewable energy is not only reshaping the energy landscape but also transforming the lives of women across the country. Solar-powered technologies are enabling women to establish home-based micro-entrepreneurship ventures, enhancing their productivity, and alleviating drudgery.

From rural areas to urban centers, stories of women finding economic empowerment through solar-powered initiatives are emerging. These tales of transformation encompass diverse sectors, from garage mechanics to papad-making businesses, illustrating the profound impact of solar solutions.

The surge in solar power adoption is propelling India’s renewable energy capacity, which has almost doubled in the last five years, with solar capacities tripling to make up a significant portion. With approximately 71 GW of solar capacity forming 54% of the total renewable energy capacity, solar power is driving change on multiple fronts.

Key to this shift is the focus on decentralised solar applications. Alongside utility-scale solar projects, decentralised solar solutions like solar rooftops, solar-based livelihood applications, and solar pumps are gaining prominence. These applications ensure inclusivity and a people-centric transition, unlocking opportunities for women’s economic growth.

According to a recent report by Powering Livelihoods, over 71% of the early adopters of clean tech livelihood appliances in India are women. Solar technologies are tapping into women’s entrepreneurial spirit and enabling them to venture into various sectors, creating a ripple effect of empowerment.

In rural areas, decentralised renewable energy (DRE)-based technologies are proving transformative. These technologies provide women with opportunities for micro-entrepreneurship within their homes, improving productivity and reducing laborious activities. Women are capitalizing on solar-powered solutions like milking machines and sewing machines, significantly enhancing their efficiency and income.

The shift towards solar-based livelihoods is also being catalyzed by strategic partnerships. Organisations like Selco Foundation have been instrumental in providing solar-powered solutions tailored to the needs of women. These solutions go beyond energy provision, focusing on improving livelihoods and enhancing financial independence. The solar-powered hydraulic papad press machine, solar-powered sewing machines, and other solar-based appliances are helping women establish businesses, diversify income streams, and uplift their families.

Despite the successes, challenges persist. Finding the right partners and securing loans for women entrepreneurs remains a hurdle. Societal norms, lack of assets in women’s names, and biases against their education and intelligence also impede progress. Yet, women have demonstrated exceptional resourcefulness and capacity for successful businesses.

Government initiatives are also contributing to this transformation. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) released a policy framework in 2022 aimed at scaling DRE livelihood applications. This policy facilitates access to finance, skill development, and capacity-building for women, promoting technology adoption through existing schemes and women self-help groups.

In essence, India’s solar push is not only revolutionising its energy landscape but also empowering women through economic avenues previously unexplored. As solar-powered technologies continue to evolve, they carry the potential to uplift communities, bridge gender disparities, and drive a sustainable future for all.

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Empowering Women through Solar Innovations: How India’s Solar Push Catalyzes Micro-Entrepreneurship Opportunities
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