The Solar Village Project arose from several projects undertaken by board members Sunil Sharma and Joe Kselman. After a serendipitous meeting in 2012 as tour guide and tourist, the pair quickly became friends. Joe visited Sunil’s village and noticed the striking lack of a power source in the adjacent village of Gauterine. Sharing similar interests in seeing the people of Gauterine benefit from the access to electricity, the two eventually discussed the challenges of installing a power system in the Gauterine village school to address the lack of electricity there.
After a year of discussing logistics and acquiring materials from their respective homes in India and the United States, Joe and Sunil implemented their first project together in summer of 2013. It was a true success. Electricity was provided to the Gauterine village school for the first time ever. Light allowed children and adults alike to read into the evenings. Access to new worlds of information was provided through books and the ability to charge cell phones.
In the fall of 2013, Joe and Sunil followed up the project by upgrading the size of the battery and inverter at the school. They also installed two Raspberry Pi computers for the purposes of promoting children’s education.
Galvanized by the previous year’s success, Joe and Sunil set their sights even higher in 2014. They successfully raised $3,900 dollars on Indiegogo (The Gauterine Village Project) in order to purchase and distribute 75 solar home lighting systems in the summer of 2014. The two determined that Gauterine would be a great place to implement their pilot solar village project. Working together, they successfully distributed the systems, bringing light and the ability to charge a cell phone to everyone for the first time in Gauterine Village.
After the Gauterine Village project yielded positive results, Joe and Sunil assessed their work together. They decided the distribution and service model employed in the Gauterine Village project could be replicated and put into action anywhere people lack basic electrical infrastructure and service. To help achieve this goal, the Solar Village Project was incorporated in the Fall of 2014 and the organizations 501(c) (3) non-profit status was approved by the IRS on Feb. 20 2015.
As of October 2016 Solar Village project has successfully completed 4 full scale projects, 3 in India and 1 in Senegal, bringing light and power to over 3,000 people.
In the Winter of 2017 Solar Village Project will be implementing 7 more projects in Senegal bringing light and power to an additional 3,000 people. To learn more about this upcoming project click here.