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Washington SyCip: Lessons I Learned In Business

Ateneo de Manila University
Publication Date
  • Ecology


The Art of Rural Business 107 Journal of Management for Global Sustainability 2 (2013): 107–119 © 2013 International Association of Jesuit Business Schools THE ART OF RURAL BUSINESS NANCY WIMMER microSOLAR Vaterstetten, Germany [email protected] Abstract. Grameen Shakti has mastered the art of rural business. Sixteen years ago, the Bangladesh-based renewable energy company was a pioneer in an unexplored market. It had to learn its business from scratch, including how to market solar technology while finding ways to benefit local communities. This would take time, and so Shakti began its business with a plan to become sustainable. The company’s later success—allowing five million people to benefit from light, electricity and additional income— demonstrates what an entrepreneurial approach can achieve in a tough rural environment. It is not magic—what has evolved into a mature business model and is practiced in 1,500 field offices throughout Bangladesh can be studied and learned. It involves financing a low-income clientele, training, reliable service, and above all, innovation and hard work. At its root, Shakti’s business is about making the economy work for everyone, including the people at the bottom of the pyramid. Acknowledgements. The author thanks the publisher MCRE Verlag for the kind permission to reprint parts of the book Green Energy for a Billion Poor. THE ART OF RURAL BUSINESS The move to explore alternatives to grid electricity in Bangladesh was an initiative of the Grameen Bank, which by 1994 had over two million borrowers in 34,000 villages. Twenty years of Grameen Bank experience had demonstrated that the rural poor can successfully start small businesses with the help of tiny loans (microcredit), but many of these businesses need electricity to prosper. Nancy Wimmer108 To support home businesses, the bank introduced housing loans in 1984 to provide a safe dry space to work in year round, but the problem of working after dusk by the dim

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