As part of the ‘Mahindra MPowered Village’ initiative, two solar micro grids were set up in an un-electrified hamlet of Village Belwa near Kushinagar of Uttar Pradesh. For this initiative, Mahindra used Mrida as the implementation partner. Mrida is a Social Business Venture incorporated to build sustainable and scalable, financially viable business models aimed at holistic rural development. Together, Mahindra’s CSR team and Mrida will also cover another hamlet Jhajhawa, nearby.
“The initiative is the brain-child of the Mahindra & Mahindra Corporate CSR Team, our Zonal Office in Delhi, Area Office in Lucknow, and our local dealer Shivoy Tractors in Hata - Kushinagar District. The idea is to involve as many of the Mahindra team as possible, as a part of their ‘ESOP’ – Employee Social Options Program”, says Shubhabrata Saha – Head of Sales, Channel and Customer Care – Farm Division, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. “We believe that together with Mrida, we will be able to effect a real change”, he adds.
With the grids in Belwa, this small hamlet of 35 households, which have never seen electricity so far, will now have 2 LED Bulbs and a mobile charging point per household. In keeping with the philosophy that giving away things for free rarely creates lasting and sustainable impact, a small connection fee and a monthly charge for energy access will be charged. The money collected will go into a Village Development Fund and will be managed by a Village Development Committee. The fund will ensure that the money is rotated within the village for its sustainable development over time.
So far, more than 20 households have paid the connection fee and taken connections. Typically, a small group initially participates in such initiatives, and others follow in due course. The process of installing Solar LED Street Lights has also commenced – 5 lights have already been installed so far at key locations in Belwa.
Other plans on the anvil include agricultural interventions in conjunction with the local Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), a Solar Powered E-Hub to provide education, entertainment and e-commerce facilities, a battery operated e-rickshaw, and a health/hygiene/sanitation drive – the entire initiative is geared towards facilitating sustainable and holistic development to transform Belwa into an ‘MPowered’ Village.
“This is in line with Mrida’s own approach towards development using energy access and agricultural interventions as tools, and showcasing how small interventions can lead to significant impact. Team M&M was very involved in the initiatives and we hope that the Belwa experience will showcase how theopportunities can multiply with just a nudge in the right direction”, says Arun Nagpal, Co-Founder, Mrida Group.
Apart from energy, the group has one more vertical-Mrida Greens & Organics which supports cultivation and collection of high value crops, plants and herbs, and promotes healthy products and traditional Indian medicine to the consumer, while ensuring remunerative prices and sustainable livelihoods for small and marginal rural communities.