Avani focuses on capacity building in rural communities and on creating opportunities for women and families to make sustainable contributions to their villages. The organization is devoted to generating income for local people using only local skills and local, environmentally friendly materials. It centers on sustainably harvested and produced tints, dyes, textiles and garments. The Avani Bio Energy Program represents an innovation in energy supply and sustainable livelihoods for rural communities in Central Himalaya.
We were first introduced to Avani Co-Founder Rashmi Bharti at the Social Capital Markets Conference in 2013. Avani presented an interesting opportunity for Erol because it straddles two core funding areas: equality of chances and sustainable environmental systems. The organization’s founders also worked closely with Barefoot College (another Erol grantee) and brought many aspects of that model to its work in sustainable energy and community empowerment.
The organization takes a holistic approach to ensure sustainable livelihoods for women and families, resilient communities and vibrant ecosystems. It creates opportunities for rural women to find viable employment through a self-sufficient and environmentally sustainable supply chain. Every business decision related to Avani products is guided by a strong responsibility toward environmental best practices and sensitivity to the cultural context of the village in which it works.
As Avani has grown, the need for additional sources of employment and sustainable energy has grown with it. Our initial grant helped Avani build the organizational capacity to get its Bio Energy Program up and running. The central component of the program is a pine needle-fueled power station, with local women gathering and delivering all the pine needles and other materials needed to sustain the station. The Bio Energy Program helps create a lasting source of clean energy – including low-cost cooking charcoal and energy for light and heat – for 100-150 village households as well as stable livelihoods for approximately 100 women and families.
By providing working capital to a pilot, village-based, 120-kilowatt power station, Avani will use this grant to explore the technology, business model and environmental impact of its Bio Energy Program and to create expansion opportunities.