Impact, Pollinate India

Hi, I’m Belinda Dods (left), a Landscape Architect based in AECOM’s Sydney office. With Rosanna and Johannes (right), we’re currently in India helping Pollinate Energy deliver clean energy solutions to Bangalore’s urban poor. Share our journey here!

Our first few days working with Pollinate Energy here in Bangalore has cemented my high opinions of this organisation and the incredibly inspiring and clever people committed to its cause.

Pollinate Energy’s aim? To eradicate energy poverty in India.

So how does a small start-up achieve such an ambitious feat? It all starts with training local people as entrepreneurs – ‘Pollinators’ – to sell affordable clean energy solutions, which include solar-powered lights and fuel-efficient cook stoves.


Rosanna in the field.

There’s an obvious economic incentive for those selling this equipment, but for the buyer, the main benefits include healthier homes with less smoke and less reliance on unsafe fuels such as kerosene.

Pollinate Energy has already installed over 6,000 of these solar lights, but there is so much more to be done, and that’s where the Young Professionals Program comes in.

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A demonstration of one of the cookstoves.

The program has been cleverly designed. Pollinate Energy gets to benefit from the fresh ideas provided by young professionals taking part, and the young professionals (that’s us!) get to develop new skills and hone existing ones that will be useful back home.

We have been partnered with a ‘Pollinator’, and are accompanying them to communities, helping develop sales strategies to improve and grow their respective businesses.

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Rosanna and Johannes at the office.

Our work also involves working bee projects that develop an aspect of Pollinate Energy’s operations so they can continue expanding their good work.

So what’s a typical day at Pollinate HQ?

Well, it starts off with the essentials: cups of tea and reading the Bangalore Times! But don’t assume we aren’t working hard! Some mornings consist of a lecture by an inspiring speaker in the realm of social enterprise, others with introductions and presentations of the many people and facets of the business. Energised and enlightened by this, we then move on to our working bee projects.


Johannes accompanying a local Pollinator with a fuel-efficient cookstove.

The current program sees us introducing fuel-efficient cook stoves into the community. Having discussed our approach for the day, we head out as a team to a poor community to do demonstrations – making chai and explaining the benefits of the product. It is difficult with any new product to convince the community that it does all it is said to, but it only take one person to give it a go to gain the trust of a community. One woman cooking chapati tested the cooking time on both their traditional fires and the new fuel-efficient cook stoves; the benefits where obvious with the cook stove taking far less time and using far less wood. So it’s just a matter of time before they infiltrate the communities on a large scale.


A Pollinator bringing the energy!

There are so many incredible stories to tell about this program and the experiences we have had in the communities. Watch this space for more great stories from our Indian adventure.


Originally published Aug 27, 2013

Author: Belinda Dods