Dipal Barua was a co-founder of the Grameen Bank, which does micro loans to the very poor, helping them start businesses. Now he’s working on bringing solar power to Bangladesh, especially to impoverished areas. he’s doing it much the same way that Grameen does, by empowering women.
For Barua, the success of the women technicians programme is one of his most satisfying achievements. “When we started this programme, we were not sure whether we would be able to attract enough rural women or whether they would be able to operate independently. But we trained more than 1,000 women who have developed their self-confidence and now have the opportunity to earn an income of around US$150 a month. These young women from this most conservative of societies can leave home and operate independently as technicians – this was unimaginable only a few years ago.”
His company has installed over 300,000 home solar systems, as well as 7,000 small biogas plants.
He concludes, “If I succeed, Bangladesh will become the land of renewable energy technologies, as it is now the land of micro-credit – a source of inspiration for all. This would be a very positive demonstration of what renewable energy can do for disadvantaged people around the whole world.”