Engaging the MFIs in the solar voyage


In this crisis of Covid-19, there is low demand for non-essential goods and services.  The solar alternative solutions as a renewable energy may be classified as non-essential commodities.  So can be placed very low in the consumer demand portfolio.


However, with enhanced energy demand (to be doubled by 2050), the renewable energy sector needs to play an important role. There is a direct correlation between energy consumption and economic development.


Despite increasing dependency on commercial fuels, a sizeable quantum of energy requirements (40% of total energy reequirement), especially in the rural household sector, is met by non-commercial energy sources, which include fuelwood, crop residue, and animal waste, including human and draught animal power. However, other forms of commercial energy of a much higher quality and efficiency are steadily replacing the traditional energy resources being consumed in the rural sector.

Resource augmentation and growth in energy supply has not kept pace with increasing demand and, therefore, India continues to face serious energy shortages. This has led to increased reliance on imports to meet the energy demand. Therefore, India has to maintain its pace of producing renewable energy at par.


It is to be noted that 40% of global supply chain of  component equipment (viz. photo-voltaic cells)  is controlled by China.  The companies are situated in the areas like the worst COVID-19 affected areas of China, like the Wuhan city.   Therefore,  it is also a prerequisite to invest in technology enhancement to replace those components with indigenous alternatives  to  ensue a rural solar voyage.



As par the opinions expressed under the COVID-19 scenario, even non-essential services/goods brands must engage with customers by formulating communication avenues.  Post-lock down period will definitely see the consumers purchasing behavior shifting to non-essential but life-quality enhancing products.



India is making great strides towards affordable, secure and cleaner energy. While commercial and industrial buildings are increasingly adopting solar panels, households account for only 9% of the total rooftop solar capacity, according to Bridge to India, a renewable energy consultancy firm.




If energy demand is growing in India(75% on YOY basis), then it is coming from the commercial usage.  Few reasons it is not popular at household level is high upfront cost, lack of financing options from banks, and most importantly, lack of standard products and customer awareness.



Let us see at the following table

Solar products

  Price Range in Rs.

Home lighting

  About 20,000


 99,000 – 1,50,000


 7000 – 15,000


 5000 – 9000

Equipment used for livelihoods

10,000 – 1,00,000


1,75,000 –  5,00,000


As we can see, most of the appliances and equipment are in the easy affordable range of a household.  The Micro-finance institutions (MFI) can extend loans for most of the items.


What prevents the customer from adopting the solution?


Can we do a market research of the MFI customer base  with the following questionnaire?

  • What media do members of your target audience use and for what purposes?
  • How much time is your target audience allocating to various media?
  • How quickly will your audience members devote to understanding a message?
  • What will cause your audience members to stick to the advertisement?
  • To what extent does your audience trust messages and which ones do they trust?
  • What percentage of your target audience is using adblockers?
  • What is the propensity of your audience to engage with ‘native advertising’?
  • To what extent is advertising frequency impacting on your brand?
  • How much time will members of your audience spend on a web page?
  • What social factors, beyond your control are impacting on behaviour?
  • Why do people say they read your newsletter and website, when they don’t?
  • How large is the gap between what you believe intuitively and the truth?


As per a study 63% of  marketing budget will be enhanced to include automation  to eliminate repetitive tasks and improve productivity; and (2) to improve the quality of marketing analytics central to effective decision-making. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/map-customer-journey-d-john-carlson/.


To address either, it is critical to understand the customer journey and the decision-making process consumers move through.  Mapping the customer journey can be achieved in stages as follows:

  • Identifying the primary target audience
  • Understanding the objectives of the target audience
  • Understanding the requirements of the target audience
  • Identifying each of the touchpoints along the journey
  • Prioritising the touchpoints in terms of the potential impact


In order to make the MFIs interested to be engaged with the customers, we may have a budget allocated on the basis of the following

  • Time involved
  • Information required
  • Staff required
  • Points of influence
  • Orientation and training

Another level of engagement with the MFIs will be  the additional  plus aspects, viz  the dependable customized solutions, the repair and replacement facilities and inventory at approachable distance,  and the cost of  incubating an entrepreneur and enterprise to handhold the local customer base. This is the only way to engage the MFIs in their solar voyage.