It is 2013. And India is frequently in the news, often for the wrong reasons, but sometimes for the right ones. In the overwhelming noise of what constitutes developing world problems, a social enterprise looking to make a difference can only arrive at clarity by starting with a fresh look at the specific areas or problems where it is best placed to offer solutions. Here we take a look at some such challenges faced by people in rural India, and a potential solution to the same.
• Access to electricity: India is a rapidly growing economy. However, of its significant population, over 300 million people still face access challenges to a critical resource, namely electricity. Lack of access to electricity in turn limits people’s potential to earn money, educate their children, and improve overall quality of life.
• Declining soil health and disease exposure: India’s economy is dominated by a dependence on agriculture, with 56% of India’s labor force engaged in agriculture. Soil health and nutrition are therefore an important part of what concerns and engages these agriculture workers. Overuse of chemical fertilizer in past decades has led to loss of soil nutrition, environmental pollution, and a growing number of diseases (like cancer, organ damage, birth defects) in the populace that consumes agriculture products.
• Waste disposal: As a country, India generates more than 960 million tons of waste every year, the disposal of which has become a national concern. In rural areas, people burn farming and animal waste for cooking fuel. Often this is done in small windowless huts, and the toxic fumes generated from burning causes irreparable health damage.
• Rural poverty: Farmers in rural areas are dependent on the weather, the government, and middlemen for economic sustenance. They form one of the most vulnerable and impoverished communities in India, leading to a larger BOP that lies below the poverty line. Helping this community become economically stable would result in happier rural communities, and reduce urban migration to a large extent.
GreenOil addresses this situation by using locally available organic and farming wastes to produce electricity, thus empowering local communities. Using a process of anaerobic digestion, made more efficient, scalable and reproducible through GreenOil innovations, it effectively disposes of waste to create methane that may be used either as clean cooking fuel or to generate electricity. In addition, organic fertilizer is created as a by-product that helps soil nutrition and longevity, and reduces the need for spending on irrigation or chemical fertilizers.
GreenOil invests back over 60% of its generated revenue into the local community. Currently, the company is working on ramping up operations on a 1MW power plant in Samode, Rajasthan. The plant is expected to have the following environmental impact:
• >130,000 acres of farm land per year enriched
• >2000 tons/year of chemical fertilizer use reduced
• >13,000 tons/year of waste disposed
• >50,000 tons/year of carbon emission reduction