The founder and CEO of Frontier Markets
is empowering a population in need of reliable electricity with solar energy.
Having lived in such circumstances, Ajaita Shah founded Frontier Markets (FM) in 2010 to bring solar-powered products to people in remote rural areas-so-called last-mile locations-in India.
Solar power is not new to India, but Shah, who was born in New York and studied international relations at Tufts University, found that a lack of education, access, affordability, and trust in the technology has hindered its use in that country.
Inspired by Sears, Roebuck and Co.'s on-the-ground efforts to sell services alongside its products at the turn of the 20th century, Shah
created a localized economy in solar solutions-one that educates sales personnel, distributes products to remote customers, and services the products sold-Rajasthan, India's largest state, and, more recently, Andhra Pradesh.
Starting with a handful of goat farmers selling solar-powered lanterns, FM
now has 35 staff members on the ground who have sold about 50,000 products-including home lighting kits, street lights, and power packs-to 25,000 households and businesses.
ARCHITECT spoke with Shah
on how FM
is empowering a population once skeptical of solar.