Bangladesh is facing a severe energy crisis which has proven one of the key hurdles to economic and social development. Since the national grid is inaccessible to 70 % of the nation’s rural regions, increased use of alternative energies is perhaps the only realistic solution to the energy shortage.
The Citi—GHEL Solar Project for Rural Microenterprises was introduced in 2011 in selected villages around the country to give these communities access to electricity. The program was initiated by AUP, financed by Citi Foundation and executed by GHEL. The objectives of the project were kept in line with the key focus areas of Citi Foundation – the development of microentrepreneurs and microenterprises.
Direct support to microfinance clients by offering Solar Home Systems by which their families would have increased access to electricity.
Enterprise development support to micro entrepreneurs by providing them training to enable the acquisition of new skills — making their businesses more productive and raising the income level of the entrepreneur.
Together with the Solar Home System, GHEL provided women from remote areas with free training on the installation, functions and maintenance. This approach allowed for further female empowerment— both economic and social – through additional income generating activities.
The beneficiaries of the program have been mainly microentrepreneurs and their households. The initiative targeted the villages of Motlab and Sengarchar in Chadpur District. These villages did not have access to the national electricity grid which severely restricted the people and the local entrepreneurs in their daily activities and business development efforts. Households in selected villages were provided with 20W Solar Home Systems and micro enterprises with 40W Solar Home Systems in order for them to be able to extend their business hours.