Improving Life in Urban Communities

Jun 10, 2015 10:05 AM ET

AECOM Impact blog

Louis Scipione, an environmental scientist based in AECOM’s Sydney, Australia, office, visited Hyderabad, India, with his colleagues Sean and Zara, to participate in Pollinate Energy’s Young Professional program. He talks about his experience and why it will stay with him and his team forever. 

Pollinate Energy is a social business with a simple mission — to improve the lives of India’s urban communities by giving them access to affordable products such as solar lights, water filters and cook stoves. As Zara has said in a previous post, we are training micro-entrepreneurs (or “Pollinators”) who provide door-to-door services selling and maintaining life-changing products in urban communities. These products save families money, improve health and increase quality of life.

There are 65 million Indians living in urban communities, surviving on an average of $1.52 a day. They can’t afford to buy even the simplest technologies to improve their daily lives; and so, many live without electricity, clean water or sanitation. Interacting with those living in these communities has been both challenging and rewarding. In many cases, people’s faces light up when we demonstrate the solar lights and talk about the water filters. Pollinate gives the families access to these products by offering deferred-payment plans, as most would have difficulty saving enough money to buy the products outright.

Most of the communities are made up of people from rural areas who come to the city in search of work. In many cases, these communities have been established for more than 10 years and, in some cases, up to 30 years. Pollinate has mapped approximately 540 different communities around Hyderabad that range in size from two to three tents, to others comprising more than 200 tents. These communities usually consist of people who come from the same native village and work throughout the city as construction labourers, garbage collectors, handcraft makers or street stall workers. It is extremely difficult for families to make ends meet, and we have seen in communities that explaining what we are doing gives hope to these families and shows them that people care for them.

We feel extremely lucky to have the opportunity to take part in this journey with Pollinate Energy; so far, it’s been an experience that will stay with us for the rest of our lives. We still have a lot to learn and important work to contribute over the next week. Stay tuned to the AECOM Impact blog for more insights into life in India with Pollinate Energy!

Check out more Pollinate India blog posts on the AECOM Impact blog!


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Ed Mayer
Vice President, Corporate Communications