How Selco Solar is helping create livelihoods for people in Karnataka

AJ Vinayak Mangaluru | Updated on January 16, 2020

The company’s solar-powered laptop printers, milking machines, roti rollers, and sewing machines, among over 50 products and solutions, are helping create stable livelihoods for the State’s micro entrepreneurs

Laptop printers may not be directly connected to solar energy. However, solar energy is one of the main reasons petty shops in rural areas are installing laptop printers to make photocopies. Also, production of traditional earthen pots may be on the decline in many parts of the country. However, a solar-powered potter’s wheel is helping revive this profession in some areas of the country. These products, along with others such as solar-powered milking machines, roti rollers and sewing machines are helping Selco Solar Light quietly script a change in the lives of micro entrepreneurs in Karnataka.

Guruprakash Shetty, Assistant General Manager of Selco Solar Light Pvt Ltd, told BusinessLine that Selco has come out with such solar-powered solutions to help generate more than 60 livelihood options. Selco Solar, a social enterprise, is observing a ‘livelihood month’ (from December 19 to January 20).

Some of the solar-powered livelihood solutions include sewing machines, blowers for blacksmiths, rope-making machines, roti-rolling machines, milking machines, salon trimmers etc. These solutions have been designed to meet the requirements of the region/profession in a cost-effective manner.

Citing the laptop printers, he said many petty shops in rural areas have installed these printers for photocopying work. Regular photocopiers require a huge investment and regular maintenance, which micro entrepreneurs cannot afford. Moreover, these photocopying machines have to be run on generators when there is a power cut.

The laptop printers have proved to be a cheaper option for micro entrepreneurs. Indeed, this solar-powered livelihood option is among the most sought-after options in rural areas, said Shetty.

Around 480 persons have benefited from solar-powered laptop printers in rural areas over the 2-3 years. Of them, nearly 150 took up this option during the ‘livelihood month’ campaign that began on December 19.

Roti roller

Selco Solar, in association with Karaseva (a student NGO of the Mangaluru-based Yenepoya Medical College), is also assisting a government Kannada-medium school in setting up a roti-rolling machine. Parents of a couple of students studying in the school are being trained in roti rolling.

By installing the solar-powered roti-roller in the school, Selco has provided another technology-backed livelihood option. Stating that the market is also assured for rotis prepared in the school, he said canteens of the medical college hospitals, around 15 km from the school, will be the main customers for the rotis.

Though rotis are not the staple food of coastal Karnataka, medical college hospitals in the vicinity get numerous patients from northern Karnataka, accompanied by family and attendants. Roti is the staple food of many people in this region.

Shetty said the most preferred livelihood options are solar-powered laptop printers, milking machines, roti rollers, and sewing machines.

Stating that the ‘livelihood month’ campaign has been getting good feedback, he said it has helped generate 434 employment avenues until now. A total of 1,000 new employment avenues are likely to be created during the month, as many of these options are in various stages of implementation, he said.

Shetty says Selco Solar will not stop with these 60-plus solar-powered livelihood options — the target is to come out with a new option every month.

Published on January 16, 2020

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