Name: Coralie Vergez
Institution: HEC, France
Duration: September - November 2011
Project: Social Impact Assessment Study, Financial Literacy Manual, Process Mapping
Location: Bangalore, Karnataka
"My internship at SELCO has been one of the most interesting experiences in my life.
I heard about SELCO for the first time at a Conference during which Harish Hande, SELCO's Managing Director, was sharing his philosophy on doing business. I instantly knew I wanted to work for such a vision.
A few months later, I was in SELCO's office. Prasanta Biswal, who would coordinate my internship, explained my mission in details. I was going to work on designing and conducting a social impact assessment survey (which took most of my time), on initiating a financial literacy program and on mapping SELCO's best practices. I was thrilled and felt challenged by the task.
My time in SELCO flew and I can't tell what I preferred: collaborating with smart, passionate and always-willing-to-help colleagues, meeting SELCO's customers and measuring their smiles, being challenged by a way of working I was not familiar with or learning so many things about India, social business, rural finance, SELCO's Business Model, Kannada (the local language)…
If I had to do it again, I would do it twice. This internship experience at SELCO has brought me much more than I expected.
So if you are thinking about applying for an internship, my advice is the following: don't think, apply. And if you have any questions, I will be delighted to answer them."
Name: Linda Kuhn Institution: University of St.Gallen, Switzerland Duration: January - March 2010 Project: Social Impact Assessment Study Location: Bangalore, Karnataka
or me my internship at SELCO in Bangalore was a unique opportunity in many senses. Not many companies like SELCO exist. When I got to know about this company I was fascinated about its model: a for-profit social enterprise. I was lucky to get a look inside this company. I have seen how it operates and which challenges it faces on a day to day basis and in the long-term. My task was to elaborate a basis for a systematic social impact assessment at SELCO. Doing this I got the responsibility and possibility to come up with my own ideas, which was challenging and very motivating. Part of my work was a survey with SELCO's customers. Therefore I could travel around Karnataka and get to know SELCO's innovative approaches and technologies, local business in the service centres and the various ranges of customers. All the time I was supported by SELCO team members. We spent a lot of time travelling together and we always had extremely interesting conversations and a great time. Not knowing much about India before I came to SELCO, I got in touch with the culture, people and beauty of this country. Never ever would a holiday have shown me as much as these months at SELCO. From the beginning on I felt like a part of SELCO's team and whether it was finding a nice home to stay in Bangalore or learn more about SELCO even apart from my work, everything was made possible. Thank you very much to all people of SELCO for making my time so positive and rich of special memories and experiences. I am looking forward to see how SELCO will grow further in the future and bring brighter light to more peoples' lives.
Name: Christie Obiaya Institution: MIT Sloan School of Management Duration:August 2009 Project: Business Plan for Incubation Lab Location: Ujjire, Karnataka
In August 2009, I had the opportunity to work with the SELCO team on developing a business plan for the recently created Incubation Lab, based in a small but beautiful village of Ujire (even googleearth couldn’t do it justice). My first reaction of the Lab was of its embodiment of the very principles that make SELCO thrive: a relentless bias toward action, strong encouragement to get one’s hands dirty (engineering works-in-progress were everywhere!), and a commitment to immersion in the communities whom SELCO seeks to serve. Those principles permeated my time at SELCO. I learned an immense amount about the challenges of innovating for the rural poor in India, from scarcity of resources to the wariness encountered during consumer research – and even, the challenges of communicating the concept of “innovation” to SELCO’s talented regional technicians who innovate every day of their lives and think nothing of it. SELCO’s purposeful growth without losing its customer-centricity was a fascinating business case to behold, and more importantly it is a true role model for social enterprises around the world seeking to alleviate the burdens of poverty.
Name: Rushil Patel Institution: Imperial College London Organisation: Engineers without Borders UK Duration: July-September 2009 Project: Solar cum biomass food dryer Location: Ujire, Karnataka
I first learnt about SELCO through the Engineers without Borders programme in the UK. My first impression was that the SELCO ideal of being commercially viable, while providing sustainable technology to a rural population was very intriguing and this is what led me to spend my summer here at the Incubations Laboratory.
During my time at the laboratory I worked on a prototype solar cum biomass food dryer. Long term food preservation is a huge problem in this area because the heat and high humidity levels make fresh produce very susceptible to mould. Refrigeration is an option however this is expensive and coupled with a lack of or unreliable electricity, not a viable option in a rural environment. Therefore food drying was put forwards as a solution.
I started by investigating current methods of food-drying and trying to improve on them. This led to the concept of a food dryer, which can be operated all year round and in all climates using either the sun or biomass as a source of heat. I designed a prototype and a local carpenter manufactured it, using locally sourced materials. Since its delivery, I have been testing the dryer’s performance and designing an improved dryer, which should have fewer issues than the prototype and perform much better.
I hope that the work I have done will be a good stepping stone for SELCO to take the dryer forwards and bring it to a mass-market. Although a culture of drying foods does not exist in this area at the moment, I believe that if the consumers are shown the dryer and its benefits they will be won over. There is also huge potential for using the dryer for commercial purposes; a scaled-up version of the prototype could dry enough fruit that it could be packaged and sold on, thus generating extra income for families or small communities.
Name: H. Aditya Shetty Institution: Sir. M Visvesvaraya Institute of Technology, Bangalore Duration: April-September 2009 Project: Integrated Energy Food Cart Location: Bangalore, Karnataka
I first came across the SELCO when I was reading an advertisement in the print media for the solar products that were being manufactured and marketed in and around Bangalore. Hence when our Professor G. Srinivas Rao, informed us abouta project on ‘Integrated Energy Food Cart’ being undertaken at SELCO it came as a surprise from what I perceived to be SELCO’s profile so this did not quite add up to the idea of manufacturing food carts. But as I learnt more about SELCO and the projects that were undertaken here for by a wide range of interns from different fields aiming for a sole purpose of providing affordable technology for the underprivileged, I was honored that I made the cut to represent our University.
As soon the project began in Bangalore in month of April 2009, it became very clear as to why SELCO was venturing into this area of food cart manufacturing. I learnt that the food carts that were used all over the country had many problems and they were very crudely made for street vendors without any technical expertise. The carts had a basic problem with the tyres which would get punctured far too often in addition to problems of steering, braking and topping. Hence I started off on the project for making a cart which would solve all these problems.
My project at SELCO involved surveying of existing carts, sketching out of possible designs for the cart for different type of cart applications, manufacturing of prototypes, coordinating fabrication of prototypes and collection of feedback from end users. In a span of 6 months the team came up with 5 complete prototypes each being manufactured by local workshops, handling a different issue and each trying to solve the drawbacks observed in the previous ones.
I heartily wish that the effort put forth by the team was of great help to SELCO and will be a project that will help in every way for the future teams that will work on the same trying to eliminate all the problems that are commonly encountered. I certainly wish that the prototype made by us will hit the road and be a success story with the large vendor population hence winning laurels for SELCO and us.
I am extremely grateful to the management for providing the opportunity to work in a reputed company like SELCO. It was indeed a pleasurable experience. This project has enlightened my thought process and contributed in a great way to my personal and professional development.
Name: Ayush Hegde Institution: Sir. M Visvesvaraya Institute of Technology, Bangalore Duration: April-September 2009 Project: Integrated Energy Food Cart Location: Bangalore, Karnataka
SELCO gave me a unique and highly satisfying summer. You get a lot of independence to translate your ideas to action, and I think there is nothing more rewarding! I greatly cherish my stint at SELCO because of two particular reasons:
A dream of joining a company that would nurture our knowledge and experience is what one always hopes and that is what happened for me, here at SELCO. An apprehensive beginning and a pleasant journey to what would change my thinking on how and what industry requirements are for rural markets. My internship with SELCO SOLAR PVT. LTD. has broadened my way of thinking and method of approach to use my knowledge of engineering in ways that can help develop better products for the rural market.
I was given the opportunity to join the company for an internship to help design and create an integrated energy cart. The association with the company helped me to discover the market and venture into places that have the right expertise do the required jobs. The work not only enhanced my skills but taught me how to interact with people from all walks of life, rural buyers to skilled laborers. The association with SELCO has developed my capabilities and helped to improve my knowledge in ways I could never imagine.
In hopes of keeping the association warm and fruitful I would like to thank SELCO, Mrs. Indira, Principal- Sir MVIT and Mr. G. Srinivas Rao, Proffessor- Sir MVIT for giving this opportunity to join such a dedicated company.
Name: Srinath Ramakkrushnan Institution: IIT Madras Organisation: Engineers for Social Impact (E4SI) fellowship Duration: June to July 2009 Project: Paddy dehusker/dry-grinder/oil-expeller machin Location: Ujire, Karnataka
I came to know about SELCO through one of my professors at TATA Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. I was extremely fascinated by SELCO’s commitment to serve the underserved sections of our country. I started to follow news about SELCO and this acted as a catalyst in increasing my interest to work with the organisation.
(i) "Engineering for Social Impact": Being an extremely passionate person in the social sector, the internship at SELCO Labs gave me my first real break - Engineering need based solutions for the rural community. I think when passion meets need, magic is certain!
(ii) "Learning by Doing": My lab had a strong focus in delivering rather than just designing. Much of the learnings in designing my machine came from rustic field surveys and interactions with local paddy farmers. Trust me, online literature on rural technologies is highly inadequate! Innovations, ideas and actions came from different sources - automobile workshops, hardware stores, engineering college workshops and Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs).
Name: Abhishek Nawab Academic Institution: Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai Duration of internship: April to May 2009 Title of project: Assessment of Energy Needs of Fishermen Communities and Impact Assessment of Financial Innovation Projects. Location of project work: Kumta, Kundapur, Udupi, Sirsi, Dharwad, Bellary, Chitradurga.
During my internship period, I worked on 2 projects. My first project was related to assessment of the energy requirements of the poor fishermen community in Kumta and Kundapur. I interacted with various fishermen community and looked at possible interventions of cheap energy alternatives at various levels which include cheap refrigerators, smokeless chullas and lighting on the boat. I also looked at the energy alternatives from angles of utility, durability and cost. The second project was of impact assessment of SELCO’s projects undertaken in REEEP.
Visiting the project sites was a life changing experience. SELCO’s presence was seen in the remotest corners of Karnataka. It was a pleasurable experience where I could connect theories taught in classroom to the practical field. During the project I visited Udipi, Sirsi, Dharward, Bellary and Chitradurga. I presented two project reports which will serve as reference documents for SELCO in the future.
Name: Ellie Griffiths Institution: M ENG Nottingham University UK Organization: Engineers without Borders Duration: July to September 2008 Project: Improved cookstove research Location: Dharwad, Udupi, Bangalore
Myself and a fellow engineering student carried out a placement with Selco, researching the market and performance of improved cookstoves for various regions of South India. I really enjoyed being a part of the hard-working team at Selco, we retained regular communication and were well supported, but were also given the freedom and responsibility to work alone and act on our own ideas and decisions. My interest in this area was strongly developed and I took stove design on as my final year university project, I have also been prompted to come back to India and work further in the field and I hope to cross paths with Selco again.