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Programme Overview

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The initiative supports enterprises with cleantech for livelihood applications to undertake large-scale commercial deployment for their solutions. This is done through an integrated gendered lens and we use the evidence generated to catalyse the sector.

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The gap

India’s rural economy, comprising 119 million farmers and 34 million microenterprises, is constrained by unreliable electricity access; more than four million microenterprises mention lack of reliable electricity as the biggest challenge to their businesses.

The electricity gap for the rural economy could be addressed through clean energy innovations, which have a market potential of over $50 billion and can impact 3 crore livelihoods in India. Currently, while these innovations exist, their deployment is limited. They are struggling to scale due to a lack of policy and financial support and are unable to unlock support due to lack of evidence, creating a vicious circle.

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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 with gender-inclusive strategies at its core. The programme will provide enterprise support to enable women-friendly product enhancements and commercial deployments, generate evidence at scale, disseminate knowledge to key stakeholders, and unlock sectoral support and growth.

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Sectoral Potential and Impact

Powering Livelihoods (PL) has planned an impact assessment study in two phases to adequately capture the impact of the technologies in PL’s portfolio, which represent more than 80 per cent of the sector in terms of revenue. In 2022, we undertook Phase I of the impact assessment study, involving end-users of six different DRE-livelihood technologies

71% of end user experienced increase in income

35% increase in annual income was experienced by a typical user

86% end user had improved confidence to earn and work

88% end users experienced increased support of family members/ spouses

2X increase in productivity of silk reeling users compared to earlier reeling practices

0.7 litres of average increase in milk yield per day per animal using solar vertical fodder grow unit

89% women users reported increased participation in events

93% women users reported having gained relevant knowledge and skills

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Call for Applications

December 2020 – January 2020

Application Screening and Enterprise Shortlisting

January 2020 – April 2020

COVID-19 support to Shortlisted Enterprises

June 2020 – August 2020

Cohort Launch

August 2020

Incubation Programme

September 2020 – March 2023

Cohort Graduation

March 2023

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Watch how ‘Demo Champion’ Neetu Tandon’s entrepreneurial journey is powered by an energy-efficient food-processing machine.

Watch how solar-powered refrigerators are changing the livelihoods of women working in the dairy value chain in Rajasthan.

Watch how women-led Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) in Andhra Pradesh are reducing on-farm waste and increasing incomes through solar dryers.

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Intended Impact

We aim and measure the impact of Powering Livelihoods at three levels: End-user, Enterprise and Ecosystem

40,000  beneficiaries

using clean energy-powered livelihood solutions with over 1/3rd being women.


increase in income of at least 3/4th of the beneficiaries.

INR 5 Cr

unlock end-user credit for DRE livelihood technologies


cleantech enterprises onboarded


increase in cumulative revenue of the programme enterprises


DRE livelihood technology deployments

  • Engage and support state departments towards DRE livelihoods programmes’ design and implementation
  • Facilitate opportunities for end-users to share their impact stories.
  • Expanding Go-To-Market (GTM) partnerships, including new kinds of partners such as corporate partners with rural distribution channels and Cluster Based Business Organisations (CBBOs).
  •  Facilitate convenings at the global, national and sub-national level.
  •  Expanding partnerships with State Rural Livelihood Missions (SRLMs) in four new states.
  • Disseminate the socioeconomic and environmental impact.
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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.

The Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) is one of Asia’s leading not-for-profit policy research institutions and among the world’s top climate think tanks. The Council uses data, integrated analysis, and strategic outreach to explain — and change — the use, reuse, and misuse of resources. The Council addresses pressing global challenges through an integrated and internationally focused approach.

It prides itself on the independence of its high-quality research, develops partnerships with public and private institutions, and engages with the wider public. CEEW has a footprint in over 20 Indian states and has repeatedly featured among the world’s best managed and independent think tanks. Follow us on X (formerly Twitter) @CEEWIndia for the latest updates.

Villgro is India’s foremost and one of the world’s largest social enterprise incubators. Established in 2001, Villgro’s mission is to make innovative, impactful businesses succeed in Health, Agribusiness, and Climate Action. Since 2001, Villgro has supported 340 social enterprises that have raised over INR 4.28 billion in investments, created 5,646 jobs, and impacted over 20.8 million lives.

Villgro was awarded the Top Incubator Award by the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (GoI) in 2020 and the DivHERsity awards in 2022. Visit website: https://villgro.org