Pollinate Energy merges with US-based Empower Generation

Pollinate Energy, a social enterprise that provides affordable solar lighting to people in India’s urban slums, is merging with U.S. based Empower Generation, creating a combined social enterprise that will operate in India and Nepal.

Women Entrepreneurs in Nepal (photo supplied by Pollinate Energy)

The product suite, including solar lights and solar fans, addresses climate change and human rights issues around poverty, enabling the organisation to directly impact a number of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) goals. Products are distributed through a unique network of local entrepreneurs – a predominately woman-led salesforce – who either own their own franchise or are employed directly by the organisation.

Pollinate Energy, which was founded in Australia and India, operates in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Lucknow and Kanpur. Empower Generation is an American social enterprise empowering rural Nepalese women to become entrepreneurs and distribute life-changing products, such as solar lights, water filters, and clean cookstoves to their communities. They currently operate across the Terai (plains region) of Nepal, with a focus on Chitwan and Kailali districts.

The two organisations have complementary models and have come together to bolster what each saw as gaps in their model, said Anna McGregor, general manager – Australia, at Pollinate Energy.

“It’s been super-smooth,” McGregor said. “That says a lot about the type of people that work for Pollinate Energy and Empower Generation, and how driven they are to get the best work possible. The combination of both is so fascinating – we have so much to learn from each other. We can help Empower Generation improve their processes, and for us, with what they’re doing in Nepal, they’re reaching more people more quickly, using sales agents through a shop model, which is what Pollinate touched on previously, but didn’t know how to do effectively.”

For Empower Generation, the decision to join forces with Pollinate Energy was an easy one, said Anya Cherneff, Empower Generations’s founder.

“Merging with Pollinate Energy is an incredible opportunity for our organisations to learn from one another and to empower more women into positions of leadership across a global organisation that is changing millions of lives,” Cherneff said. “This is a crucial milestone on our path to scale, and we are showing the world that innovative collaborations can break down barriers to growth for social enterprises like ours, especially in the last-mile distribution sector.”

The merged organisations are selling their merged product lines in both countries where applicable, McGregor said.

“Empower Generation uses different products because looking at rural families and providing agricultural products,” she said. “We can very quickly do our needs assessment for our families and integrate that into our suite.”

Alexie Seller, CEO of Pollinate Energy, will remain as CEO for the new merged organisation. Cherneff will remain on the board of the merged organisation.