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A Case of SELCO Foundation in Fostering and Scaling Sustainable Ecosystems for Social Transformation in India

Harleen Sahni (National Institute of Fashion Technology, India)
Nupur Chopra (National Institute of Fashion Technology, India)
Simran Grover (Bask Research Foundation, India)

Sustainability and Social Marketing Issues in Asia

ISBN: 978-1-80071-846-3, eISBN: 978-1-80071-845-6

Publication date: 26 January 2023


This case discusses the journey of SELCO Foundation, a Bengaluru based not-for-profit organization. It provides key learning and insights for social transformation and poverty alleviation. With the vision of “creating inclusive development pathways that were socially and environmentally sustainable,” the Foundation fostered and scaled ecosystems for democratization of access to clean energy and sustainable solutions for the marginalized communities. Using decentralized renewable energy (DRE), SELCO’s initiatives had established linkages between SDG7 (Affordable and Clean Energy) and SDG3 (Good Health and Well-being), SDG4 (Quality Education), SDG8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), and SDG11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities). Throughout its journey, it continuously challenged normative development paradigms and perceptions about gender issues, poverty, and sustainability as a whole through a people-centric approach; empowering individuals, communities, and institutions. The recent COVID-19 pandemic landed a massive blow to the country’s socioeconomic structure. SELCO Foundation’s teams deployed in remote locations for livelihood interventions programs had faced a multitude of challenges due to COVID-19 lockdown. As a response to COVID-19 crisis, SELCO Foundation rallied its resources to support relief efforts across India. It leveraged its expertise in energy by deploying a pan India network of grass-root partners; community-sourced innovations to ramp-up last mile healthcare infrastructure, build community resilience programs, and strengthen existing capabilities. Leveraging sustainable solutions as a medium, SELCO’s transformative work extended beyond access to clean energy, and sought to address complex issues such as healthcare, education, reduction in drudgery in manual jobs, creating opportunities for dignified work and more. Through this case study, this chapter discusses the emergence, journey, and initiatives of SELCO Foundation. It explores a practice-based pedagogy of social transformation, and challenges faced in ecosystem building during the times of the pandemic. The chapter initiates a discussion for a way forward for the social enterprise in times of uncertainties and stringencies in order to continue impacting underprivileged lives to the best.




The authors of this case extend a wholehearted gratitude to Ms Huda Jaffer, Lead Designer, SELCO Foundation for sharing the deep insights about the philosophy, processes and concerns of the SELCO Foundation. The development of the current case was not possible without her continuous support, guidance, and sharing of valuable insights.


Sahni, H., Chopra, N. and Grover, S. (2023), "A Case of SELCO Foundation in Fostering and Scaling Sustainable Ecosystems for Social Transformation in India", Quoquab, F. and Mohammad, J. (Ed.) Sustainability and Social Marketing Issues in Asia, Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 67-84.



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