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About | Powering Livelihoods


The Gap

Farm power availability in India is a third of that in China. More than four million rural micro enterprises in India cite lack of reliable electricity as the top bottleneck to their businesses. Providing reliable energy access would not only create new livelihood opportunities but also improve productivity, product value, and incomes. However, very few clean-energy based livelihoods solutions have been deployed at scale in India. Most of these innovations are at a pre-commercial stage, on the verge of the commercial valley of death. They are not receiving support from investors, financiers, and policymakers to get deployed at scale. The lack of deployment, on the other hand, is hindering the support in the first place - creating a vicious circle.

Bridging the gap

In order to break the vicious cycle at the commercial valley of death and trigger the $50 billion market, Powering Livelihoods envisages a four-fold approach - provide enterprise support to enable commercial deployments, generate evidence at scale, disseminate knowledge to key stakeholders, and unlock sectoral support and growth.


Call for Application
Call for Application
December 7, 2019 – January 15, 2020
Application Screening
Application Screening
January 15 – February 14 , 2020
Jury Pitches
Jury Pitches
February 15 – 28, 2020
Cohort launch
Cohort Launch
March 1, 2020
Incubation Programme
March, 2020 – February, 2022
Cohort Graduation
Cohort Graduation
March, 2022


We aim and measure the impact of Powering Livelihoods at three levels: End-user, Enterprise and Ecosystem
End-user Level
5K direct users
using clean energy powered livelihood solutions.
increase in cumulative revenue of the programme enterprises.

Enterprise Level
0.75 million
cumulative value of follow-on funding raised by programme enterprise.
increase in cumulative revenue of the programme enterprises.

Ecosystem Level
(directly attributable to the programme)
  • Evolution in perceptions of key bankers, investors and policymakers on the sector.
  • At least one policy change is broadly attributable to the initiative.
  • At least one new debt financer extends loans to productive use companies.
  • At least one new investor extends equity to productive use enterprises.
  • At least one productive use enterprise which is not part of the programme receives debt or equity support.

A joint initiative

CEEW and Villgro have co-conceptualised Powering Livelihoods and are collaborating to catalyse India's rural economy through clean energy-based solutions.

CEEW is one of South Asia’s leading not-for-profit policy research institutions. The Council uses data, integrated analysis, and strategic outreach to explain – and change – the use, reuse, and misuse of resources. It prides itself on the independence of its high-quality research, develops partnerships with public and private institutions, and engages with wider public. In 2019, CEEW once again featured extensively across nine categories in the ‘2018 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report’. The Council has also been consistently ranked among the world’s top climate change think tanks.

Founded in 2001, Villgro is India's largest social enterprise incubator. Villgro creates scalable, impactful and sustainable enterprises. Villgro has incubated over 130 social enterprises with seed funding of INR 13.9 crores, many of which have gone on to generate around 4,000 jobs, secure INR 119.5 crores in follow-on funding, and touch over 15 million underprivileged lives.