Community-Based Implementation

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Overview

Community-based implementation is a distribution strategy characterized by active presence by the enterprise in customer communities, often involving participation in facilitating customer adoption and use of the technology. This could mean training sessions and workshops in the community on product maintenance, how to best take advantage of the technology, or a longer-term presence by the enterprise in the community. Enterprises using this model are often non-profit and less focused on the number of people they reach than on the holistic impact of the technology. However, some service providers focused on rapid scaling use this model as a way of selling power as a utility (ex. Husk Power Systems). Other ways in which enterprises interact with the community include training end-users to produce the technology themselves and holding community-based workshops to assess the community’s needs and goals. Another way to increase the impact of technologies like power generators is to train community members in jobs making use of the power.

Pros

Training and ongoing support is necessary for end-users to benefit from the complex technologies, especially if these users are uneducated and do not have access to infrastructure. A community-based implementation model ensures that the end-user will be able to access a support network. Many of these enterprises are not simply concerned with the number of people reached, but rather a holistic assessment focus and in order to achieve this, they must ensure a network of ongoing support.

Cons

This model costs much more per end-user, which makes rapid scaling and profitability a challenge. Furthermore, most enterprises using this model cannot cover their costs without donor subsidies.

 

Case Studies

blueEnergy is a nonprofit that installs small-scale hybrid wind and solar installations in rural villages in Nicaragua. blueEnergy’s model is focused on creating the maximum impact in the communities in which it implements.

Rural Nicaragua, where blueEnergy operates, has very low levels of education and infrastructure. In this type of environment it is impossible to sustainably deliver energy solutions without including a great deal of capacity building and community development planning. Without a larger community focus, it is likely that the power system will not last due to lack of maintenance capacity, or its benefit to the community will be minimal due to a lack of capacity to take advantage of it.Before installing a system in a community, blueEnergy holds a workshop to understand the community’s needs and expectations. It then helps the community elect a village energy committee to help with installation and be responsible for the system long term.blueEnergy trains local technicians to maintain the systems so they are as self-sufficient as possible, and remains in contact with communities long after installation to assess and facilitate the impact of their systems.

Before installing a system in a community, blueEnergy holds a workshop to understand the community’s needs and expectations. It then helps the community elect a village energy committee to help with installation and be responsible for the long-term viability of the system. blueEnergy trains local technicians to maintain the systems so they are as self-sufficient as possible, and remains in contact with communities long after installation to assess and facilitate the impact of their systems.

Other Examples

  • Practical Action Peru installs off-grid hydro-power plants in rural communities. They then work with the community to create community energy plans that identify value chains and economically productive uses of energy.
  • DESI Power installs biomass gasifiers in villages and works with the villagers to develop local industries that will use the power generated.

Enterprises