The role of the customers in the diffusion of alternative electricity supply solution in Bangalore: A case study of SELCO bridging its rural solution to urban actors

AMIRALY Akil, SAWAMURA Haruki
This article aims to address two critical research questions: how a social enterprise identifies the local actors for the diffusion of its service and what is the role of these actors to widely spread the solutions? The article highlights the emergence of urban customers willing to use alternative electricity supplies developed by a small yet visionary company in the context of discontinuous public electricity supply in Bangalore, India. The case of SELCO helps us to illustrate this market evolution of solar photovoltaic systems. We observe a built-in corporate entrepreneurship culture of the organization playing an important role in bridging projects into a new context by creating an interactive relationship with local actors (clients). A small number of individuals in the organization starts working to understand the needs of the client, and slowly identifies new meanings of its service in an urban context recently explored as a market. The research identifies how these off-grid services developed by SELCO initially designed for very poor rural customers are slowly reaching the urban uppermiddle class customers attracted by its practical use and financial incentive. This demonstrated development of a niche market constitutes an early signal of the emergence of a social group willing to change its consumption behavior and contribute to the environment through their day-to-day activity.