After “lighting up”, the “livelihood generation initiatives” begin
After the successful completion of the Mahindra MPowered Village initiative in two villages of Kushinagar, which used energy access through Solar Power as a tool for development, Mrida has rolled out the same initiative at the district level, focusing on 9villages at one go. Mrida has now ensured that these Mahindra MPowered villages are lit up, benefitting more than 185 households.
Mrida (www.mridagroup.com) is a Social Business Venture that seeks to build sustainable and scalable, financially viable business models aimed at holistic rural development. The focus on development stays centre-stage with the MPowered District initiative and the effort is on using energy access as a tool for development. After villages Belwa ulf Belwania and Jhajhwa, the Mahindra MPowered Village initiative has move to 9 more villages/hamlets, which will benefit from this district level initiative. These villages are: Kashi Tola, Chilwan Tola, Ragarganj, Chakani Bhumiyari Patti, Lehni II, Chakani Puran Chapra, Chakani Bhoj Chapra, Mishrauli and Inderpur.
Undertaking a baseline survey that covered 100% of the households in these villages, a need assessment mapping was done. The top issue was electrification, which was undertaken. An impact assessment study revealed that this initiative has led to the saving of around 1983 litres of Kerosene consumption, leading to reduction of around 4.96 tons of CO2 emissions. The total numbers of lives impacted are around 2500.
The other issues of these villages like livelihood generation and skill training, social issues like women empowerment, etc. are now being looked at. Since these are rural communities, the focus is on agri-interventions and providing requisite training.
“After witnessing the amazing on-ground impact in the first phase, it was logical to scale up the intervention and take it to the next (District) level. Today, we take pride in the fact that this unique initiative in conjunction with the Mahindra & Mahindra AFS (Automotive & Farm Sector) CSR team is making a difference in people’s lives and offering them an opportunity to eke out a better living by imparting livelihood generation trainings and skilling them”, says Mr. Arun Nagpal, Co Founder, Mrida Group.
Mr. Shubhabrata Saha – Senior VP, Sales, Channel & Customer Care – Mahindra – Farm Division said that “The Farm Division of the Mahindra group has been actively engaged in bringing prosperity to rural India through farm mechanization for the upliftment of farming communities. Under the M POWERED program we piloted an initiative to bring solar powered electricity to District Kushinagar. These small hamlets, which had never seen electricity thus far, 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 is being 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 185 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 been completed – 40 lights have been installed at key locations in these villages.”
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 these underserved communities into Mahindra ‘MPowered’ Villages/Hamlets.
What has been/will be provided as part of the Mahindra MPowered Village concept
• Energy access using solar energy
• Agriculture interventions
• Using energy access and agri interventions as tools for holistic development
• Livelihood Generation – Basket Weaving, Stitching, Embroidery, etc.
• Health Hygiene& Sanitation
• Solar Street Lights
• The E-Hub – Solar Powered Education, Entertainment & E-Commerce Facility
• The E-Rickshaw – Environment Friendly Transportation
• Small interventions to transform lives and improve Village GDP
A Social Business Venture incorporated in February 2014, Mrida (Sanskrit for Soil) seeks to build sustainable and scalable, financially viable business models aimed at holistic rural development. Mrida has chosen to work only with underserved rural communities, which have by and large been forgotten and neglected even as the rest of the country progresses. The focus is on sustainable development, as opposed to grants or charity.
The group comprises of business entities working on financially viable business models designed to create win-win situations across the spectrum of their association. These include:
- Mrida Renergy & Development (P) Ltd. – Seeks to provide energy access to remote rural villages not connected to the electricity grid, and use this as a tool for sustainable rural development
- Mrida Greens & Organics Pvt. Ltd. – 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
Since commencing business operations in February 2014, Mrida has worked on a variety of initiatives with individuals, village level entrepreneurs, self-help-groups, rural communities, and Corporate entities. Mrida already has 20+ projects on-ground, many of these projects in remote, difficult to access areas and with underserved communities. Mrida projects provide energy access, facilitate education, are an important tool for women empowerment, facilitate livelihood opportunities, better agricultural yields, etc. These projects have shown for the large part, how mentoring, entrepreneurship and education can make a tangible, holistic difference. This has already made a significant dent in, and impacted/influenced the lives of thousands of people in villages and hamlets spread across that States of MP, UP, J&K, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand.
Mrida has partnered with leading business houses in India like Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd. (IL&FS), Hero Motors Group(AG Industries and Rockman Industries), Mahindra & Mahindra, Reliance Foundation, for integrated Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives, and is currently also engaged in active discussions with others in this regard.