Tribal communities in some of the most remote and inaccessible forests in India were lifted out of the darkness and given hope for a better future. After never having electricity in their homes, they can now turn on solar lights and charge cell phones, an advancement that has kicked-off development for the entire village.

In July 2014, a micro-lending platform called Milaap partnered with the Mlinda Foundation to install affordable, community-owned solar mini-grids in rural villages that wanted to trade in their dirty kerosene lamps, for roughly the same cost as they were paying to buy fuel.

Communities like the Santhals in the Ayodhya hills, which had for centuries lived on subsistence farming in West Bengal, India, were given loans to install affordable solar electricity.

Milaap’s community of micro-lenders provided finance, so the tribespeople could own their solar grids and play a key role in their own development.

Solar lights not only are a means to improving their livelihood and education. Lifting them above the darkness also symbolizes hope, a path to a better future.

In the few short months since partnering with Mlinda, lenders on Milaap have helped set up solar microgrids in 23 off-grid tribal locations in the Sundarbans and in 20 hamlets of Purulia, Ayodhya Hills, benefiting over 280 families.

WATCH the video from one of the villages…

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