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SELCO: lighting rural India

Rakesh Kumar Pati (Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode, Kozhikode, India)
Niharika Garud (Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, Bangalore, India)

Publication date: 1 July 2011


Subject area

Social entrepreneurship, Sustainability and Human Resource.

Study level/applicability

The case study is relevant for students of entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship. This case can be used as a case in strategy (growth strategy), marketing and innovation subjects as well.

Case overview

The case study revolves around Mr Harish Hande and his efforts to build a for–profit social enterprise Solar Electric Light Company (SELCO) to provide electricity to poor and under–served. Harish focused on providing cheap, clean and sustainable energy sources to rural customers at bottom of the pyramid of the society. From the conception of SELCO, Harish has been on a roller–coaster ride of success and failure. Harish has used the problems as a learning ground and improved his business model successfully. But, when Harish tried to scale his operations in 2005–2006 he failed miserably. Some errors in the decision coupled with external pressure had brought SELCO to a verge of collapse. Owing to the determination of Harish and his team, SELCO was able to revive from the difficult times to generate profits again. Harish now again wants to expand but this time he would not take any chances. He wants to analyze and discuss every possible issue, he might face during his expansion plans.

Expected learning outcomes

The key learning aspects of this case is to understand importance and practice of talent management. The case also highlights the best practices that SELCO uses to reach its clients and provide them complete solution.

Supplementary materials

Teaching note.



The authors would like to thank SELCO management team for their time, without which this case study could not have completed. They would especially like to acknowledge the support of Prashant Biswal (Senior Manager, SELCO India) who helped them at every stage of developing the case.


Pati, R.K. and Garud, N. (2011), "SELCO: lighting rural India", , Vol. 1 No. 3.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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