Barefoot College began in a rural Indian outpost in 1972 with the dream of building an alternative to the top-down development model: a grassroots movement reclaiming rural knowledge in development through the ownership of appropriate and advanced technologies.
That dream is now realized in a broad offering of programs that enhance economic opportunity and sustainability for the rural poor in nearly 100 countries worldwide. Barefoot’s signature program is its training course in solar engineering for women from all over the world. This first-of-its kind global network allows women to fully participate in the sustainable development of their communities, irrespective of barriers to literacy or formal education.
Barefoot College works towards the eradication of extreme poverty; it develops inclusive, social entrepreneurship in last mile communities, and aims to generate sound and stable incomes and to strengthen village cohesion and leadership.
Besides its programs that impact the lives of thousands in over 90 countries, Barefoot College invests in solar energy and became India’s first training center and NGO powered with clean, renewable energy.
In 1984, Barefoot College initiated a ground-breaking conversion to solar energy. Despite the consistent share of solar energy usage over other resources, the obsolescence of the equipment diminished the energy produced to a fraction of its potential, undermining headquarters’ productivity.
Throughout the campus, the new solar power directly increased organizational capacity. Eighty KW panels now power the Solar Office Block, Solar Workshops, Solar Mama Residences, and the Community Kitchen. Finally, they provide energy to the thirty computers present at Shiksha Niketan middle school, serving around 400 children with quality education.
New solar panels installed on the “old campus” of Barefoot College allow for increased work and training capacity for two vital programs, Enriche and Amritchurna, which are housed there.
Enriche is a comprehensive, one-of-a-kind training program for women that teaches a wide set of skills from microfinance to reproductive health. The women, in turn, will become trainers to train others back in their home villages. As part of this partnership, the Signify Foundation funded the development of the curriculum for the Enriche community pilot and roll out of solar lighting and home solar lighting systems.
By powering the work that Barefoot College does at the base of the economic pyramid we strive to end the injustice of unevenly distributed energy, enhance training at the campus in India and improve the lives of people in villages all over the world.