With a 70% rural population, there are hundreds of millions of Indians who live in villages and small towns. After decades of government-backed electrification programs, Electricity has now reached almost 95% of these homes all over the country. The problem is that it isn't always available. Leaving millions to face power outages ranging in duration from an hour to sixteen hours a day, and in frequency from once every 2-3 days to several times a day.
In response to the power outages, there has been an epidemic spread of generic, non-branded and low-quality lighting products. These are typically imported from China or other SE Asian countries, usually after misdeclaring the value to avoid paying import duty, and sold by local traders at low cost as a "cash only" transaction with no bill or receipt. Without any warranty and poor quality, these products typically malfunction within a few months, or sometimes even a few days of purchase.
The income of workers in rural India can be as low as a dollar or two dollars a day. Meaning that for the people near the bottom of the pyramid, all but the cheapest products are out of reach, or at least, difficult to purchase. This pushes them into a cycle of low-quality purchase / product-failure / repeat low-quality purchase.
For these consumers, the few hundred rupees needed to purchase a slightly more costly, durable and reliable lighting product , can be an onerous task.
For consumers with limited education and an irregular income, traditional bank finance and even micro-financing options, remain a distant dream. Those with jobs earn typically USD 100 to 150 a month, which is spent on the basic necessities of rent, commute, children's school fees, and food.
Less than 1% of Indians own a credit card, and hence cannot obtain the benefits of card-based deferred payment.
How then to fund the purchase of a light that can make such a positive impact on day to day life?
Roads in most parts of rural India are inconsistent, at best. A mixture of wide new roads under construction in some places, and damaged or potholed ones in others.
While most logistics companies, such as DHL, UPS, Fedex all offer services in major Indian cities, their deliveries into the interiors of India are limited, or in many cases, non-existent.
Delivering to the last mile in rural India remains a challenge.