Work Plan
The Environmental Colours of Microfinance
Appendix: Solar Based Rural Electrification Concept (SO-BASEC)

Solar Based Rural Electrification Concept (SO-BASEC) was developed by Enersol Associates, a non-profit international development organisation working to improve the quality of rural life in developing countries by fostering the use of solar energy for rural electrification. The SO-BASEC model was developed in the Dominican Republic and has been expanded to Honduras. SO-BASEC seeks to provide a clean, dependable source of electricity to rural entrepreneurs and households not served by the main energy grid while creating opportunities for micro-entrepreneurs through the sale, installation and maintenance of small solar electric or photovoltaic (PV) systems.

SO-BASEC relies primarily upon the strength of local private institutions in both the commercial and the non-profit rural development sector. The two main components of the model are (1) technical assistance and training to establish a hardware delivery structure, and (2) access to credit to make the PV hardware available to a broader population.

The SO-BASEC training is provided during five-day technical workshops that emphasize hands-on installations. Enersol began these courses in 1986 and now offers a sequence of four training packages, each lasting five days and averaging 10 participants. The first level course introduces the technician to the solar business and deals with basic PV systems. Simple business strategies, such as how to obtain components and set a system price, are included. After applying the skills from the first level course, technicians qualify for the more technically advanced second level course. The second level course discusses advanced business practices. To offer peer support, SO-BASEC encourages the formation of a network of trained technicians providing services.

Enersol's SO-BASEC model relies on already-established local, non-profit NGOs to offer and manage related financing, either directly or through established credit association. The loans are issued to end users who repay the principal, plus interest, in a set number of monthly payments.

In the Dominican Republic, more than 4,000 systems have been installed, more than half of which by local technicians trained by Enersol. A network of 15 small installation enterprises have been established and five NGOs now operate PV credit programmes. Approximately 500 PV installations are made each year as a result of this self-sustaining capacity.

In Honduras, a network of small entrepreneurs, trained and assisted by Enersol, has installed 1,000 PV systems in rural homes and small businesses. The number of Honduran solar entrepreneurs has grown from zero in 1992 to more than 20 as of 1995. The number of systems installed during each year has grown exponentially with the growth in number of small PV businesses, jumping from 60 systems installed during 1993 to 300 during 1994 to 550 during the first half of 1995.

Source: Smith 1995.

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Hari Srinivas - hsrinivas@gdrc.org
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