June 2011

Electrifying Bihar: the role of philanthropy and social investment

Volume 16 , Number 2

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June 2011

Electrifying Bihar: the role of philanthropy and social investment

Volume 16 , Number 2

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How can philanthropists and social investors most effectively support development?

Taking one area and issue as a case study, Alliance editor Caroline Hartnell and guest editor Simon Desjardins of Shell Foundation went to the Indian state of Bihar to visit the social entrepreneurs who are striving to bring electricity and light to remote villages, and to see how their efforts are changing the lives of local people. They also talked to many of those who support them such as Chris West of Shell Foundation and Vineet Rai, founder of Aavishkaar, Intellecap and IntelleCash. Lessons learned here can be applied to many other areas of the world. 

The feature includes in-depth case studies of two leading Indian social enterprises that have great potential for scaling up, Husk Power Systems and Greenlight Planet, including comments from current and potential investors. Based on conversations with those working and investing in the area, the feature examines the opportunities and challenges for both entrepreneurs and investors, and looks to what the future might bring. Further articles look at the role of government and the links between energy provision and development.

The June issue of Alliance also includes an article by Rebecca Adamson about recent developments aimed at helping Indigenous communities, an account of a novel microfinance guarantee system, and further opinion columns, articles, reviews, conference reports and global updates. 

Guest Editors' Article

Why does Bihar matter?

1 June 2011
Simon Desjardins

Long before Gandhi would use it as a launch pad for his campaign for independence, Bihar was an economic powerhouse, serving as the capital of India during Ashoka’s empire in the third century BC, when India’s boundaries stretched to include present-day Afghanistan and parts of Iran to the west and Bangladesh to the east. It is a state rich in history, home to one of the world’s oldest universities (Nalanda) and the oldest democracy, and …

 
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Editorial

Lighting up the night

Having visited the Indian state of Bihar at the end of March, the experience of driving through the countryside as it gets dark is fresh in my memory. It is beautiful, fertile country – fields of ripening wheat with palm trees here and there and little villages nestling along the roadside. But as dusk approaches, and then night, complete darkness falls across the landscape, the little villages lost from sight. The desire to bring light and energy to the estimated 75 per cent of the 90 million inhabitants of Bihar who have no access, or extremely limited access, to electricity …

Letters

Clarifications on the collaboration debate

Marc Pfitzer and Mike Stamp

We read with interest your article ‘Reframing the collaboration debate’ in the March 2011 of Alliance magazine, which cited the …

Creating a shared norm for transparency

Lisa Jordan

In the March issue of Alliance, among other things, Helmut Anheier suggests that European foundations should take accountability and transparency …

Dr Anheier’s prescription

Mall Hellam

‘Criticism fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things,’ …

Take the message to heart, but don’t get upset!

Bernhard Lorentz & Anne Rolvering

European foundations don’t score well in Helmut Anheier’s deficit analysis, yet the points of criticism are not new nor should …

Funders for justice all?

Albert Ruesga

I’m grateful for Jo Andrews’ very thoughtful opinion piece (‘Defining social justice philanthropy: spearing the sausage?’, Alliance March 2011) in …