We offer different levels of affordable lighting products: MITVA’s Nidhi Modi

Jessu John | Updated on January 16, 2018


‘Our offerings are not just safer than kerosene lamps but involve no running cost’

The Centre announced earlier this year that it will install around 10,000 mini-grids in poorly electrified areas across the country. The grids, which will run on renewable energy sources, are likely to be ready in about five years. According to publicly available data, India’s planned solar capacity is to be 110 GW by 2022, even as capacity stood at just 6.76 GW at the end of March 2016. Meanwhile, MITVA, an off-grid solar company of RAL Consumer Products Ltd, specialising in affordable lighting and energy solutions, generated revenues of ₹100 crore for the last fiscal. Nidhi Khaitan Modi, Executive Director, RAL Consumer Products, spoke to the Business Line about MITVA’s plans to expand offerings and enter new geographies. Excerpts:

What insights from pilot exercises helped define MITVA’s offerings?

We carried out the pilot exercise in 2010 at the rural level, where so many people rely on kerosene lamps.

These aren’t safe or efficient. We figured the most affordable alternatives to kerosene lights are the solar LED lanterns. Light from kerosene lamps provide 2 to 4 lumens compared to the 70 to 900 lumens provided by LED lights. Based on our findings, we developed different products for different uses and affordability levels.

What ill-effects of cruder energy sources are MITVA products aiming to mitigate?

Kerosene lamps are said to pose the second largest health hazard in the world. They tend to contribute to respiratory infections, lung and throat cancers, serious eye infections, cataracts and low birth weights.

The World Bank also estimates that 780 million women and children breathing kerosene fumes inhale the equivalent of smoke from 2 packs of cigarettes a day.

In India alone, 2.5 million people (around 350,000 of them are children) suffer severe burns each year, primarily due to overturned kerosene lamps.

What are the cost advantages for rural consumers?

There’s no recurring cost as with kerosene every month. Our lamps are easy to use and portable.

They’re recharged through solar panels. So it’s value for money, and we’ve seen that beneficiaries are keen on these products.

How have you priced them?

We’ve got about 9 to 10 solar products in our range under MITVA. We offer study lights, solar lanterns, a powerful solar lantern with mobile charging features, solar home lighting systems along with solar DC fans and solar invertors.

These can power small homes and offices. Our off-grid solar portable products start from ₹495 and go up to over ₹10,000.

Manufacturing in China helps you keep costs low. What about production on home turf?

Production is cheaper in China thanks to lower cost of raw materials and manufacturing cost when compared to India. Of course, we do a first quality check at China and a second stringent quality check is done at our warehouses in India before stocks are dispatched into the marketplace.

We do the consumer research, surveys, findings, analysis, product designing, R and D, and mould production in India.

How will you expand your offerings and reach over the next few years?

We have plans to expand our reach to 10 to 15 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America in the next 8 to 9 months.

Simultaneously, we’re developing solar roof-top solutions for the small home and small offices to be able to generate and supply energy to grids. MITVA has sold around 2.5 million solar products already and we’d like to sell more than 10 million units in the next 3 years. We intend to contribute around 115 MW of solar capacity for the country in the next 3 years.

Published on September 15, 2016

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