Entrepreneurs in India

The American entrepreneur had already launched a successful project in Sri Lanka to demonstrate the viability of solar systems and the capacity and willingness of rural unelectrified customers to pay for them. But when it came to India, he said:

I had no immediate plans to enter India with a solar power project, because the size of the place intimidated me, and I wasn't sure how or whether to start. India was a bit scary.2

It was in January 1993 that the Indian entrepreneur arrived at the offices of the American entrepreneur's NGO. He had been trained as an engineer at one of India's elite universities, but had little business background. As part of his graduate studies in solar energy in the US, he had conducted field work in both the Dominican Republic and Sri Lanka, and had seen how to sell, install and service solar. About this experience he later recounted, 'It was very formative to go and see these models in action.' It gave him the confidence that these models could be replicated in India: 'When you talk of high risk, it means you do not know the market. I perceived the risk as low, because I had seen the market working elsewhere.'

The American entrepreneur was interested, but didn't know where to begin. In the summer of 2003, the Indian entrepreneur travelled across the country and chose the state of Karnataka. Why Karnataka? Mainly because in certain pockets there was good purchasing power, and because electricity supply in rural areas was chronically unreliable. So whereas the Indian entrepreneur originally thought they would serve unelectrified markets, in the end they served markets where people had power, but it was so unreliable that they were willing to turn to solar as an alternative.

It would take roughly a year of visits and pre-feasibility work before the American entrepreneur was ready to launch in India. It was at this point, much in line with the emerging consensus of 'going commercial', that the American entrepreneur decided that 'they could "commercialize" this endeavour right

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