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When Grameen Shakti was founded as the first renewable energy service company in rural Bangladesh, few people expected it would succeed. The problems of providing solar electricity to villagers who for generations had not known electric lighting was considered too difficult; the people in rural communities too poor. In many ways the critics were right. What they didn’t understand was the power of innovation to open up opportunities in an undeveloped market. As a pioneer in an unexplored market, Shakti set up village branches and took time to understand its village customers. It experimented with long-term solutions, focused on sustainability and built its company to last. During its first 16 years, Shakti evolved into the largest off-grid solar energy company in the world, letting five million people benefit from light, electricity and additional income. Shakti’s work in Bangladesh is far from finished. But its success as a social business demonstrates what can be achieved in a tough rural environment. Rural electrification large scale is feasible. And Shakti’s entrepreneurial approach is a vanguard model for serving the billion rural customers in developing countries that are still deprived of electricity.
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- Grameen Shakti Social Business: A Vanguard Model for Rural Energy Service
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