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SELCO: Mission or Market? *

ET Cases, 12 pages
AUTHOR(S) : S.R.Asokan (Associate Professor, Institute of Rural Management, Anand, Gujarat), Pankaj Kumar Mohanty (Academic Associate, Institute of Rural Management, Anand, Gujarat)

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SELCO: Mission or Market?

SELCO Solar Private Limited (SELCO India) is a social enterprise providing solar home lighting solutions to the rural households. SELCO focusses on villages which are off the grid of electric supply. SELCO made steady profit till 2005 but thereafter began to lose money. The management was under immense pressure from the investors to trim operations. However, Harish Hande (Hande), the Founder and the Managing Director of the company was against any such move as it was against the mission of the company. As a social enterprise it was their mission to provide technology-based solutions to a large number of rural households. Hande managed to raise money from a new set of investors and bought out (rather crammed down) the original investors. By 2010, SELCO began to make operating profit. Hande was aware that unless he made money the patience of the new investors might wear away. He was contemplating scaling up the activity to increase the revenue. He was in a dilemma whether to expand to other states as the operations of the company was confined to Karnataka or to go deeper by widening the product portfolio or do both. Hande called for a workshop for the staff as well as the external stakeholders to brainstorm about the future course of the company..........


Exhibit I: Status of Village Electrification

Exhibit II: Source of Lighting for Households in India (in %)

Exhibit III: Range of Lighting Solutions

Exhibit IV: Operations Structure of SELCO

Exhibit V: Linkages between Savings, Earnings and Repayment of Loan

Exhibit VI: Profile of the Investors

Exhibit VII: Profit and Loss Account

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Product code: STG-1-0003


This case study describes the dilemma about the scaling up issues faced by a social enterprise. SELCO is a for profit enterprise engaged in providing solar lights to rural households in the state of Karnataka, India. The case study gives an opportunity to highlight the divergence and convergence of passion and interest of the social entrepreneur and the expectations of the financiers of such ventures. Through the story of Harish Hande, the Founder, the case study looks at the various strategies that SELCO undertook for scaling up its activities in other states, broaden the product portfolio and bring in fresh investment to maximize profit and turn the enterprise into a full-blown profit making entity.

Pedagogical Objectives

The objectives of the case study are to expose students to the:

  • Challenges faced by the social entrepreneur in finding the right kind of capital to pursue his/her passion of creating social benefits
  • Innovations needed in finding market-based solutions in providing a social need
  • The difficulties faced by the social enterprises in replicating or scaling up their success

Case Positioning and Setting

This case study can be used in the MBA Course as well as in Executive Development Programs for the following courses:

  • Social Entrepreneurship: To highlight the divergence and convergence of passion and interest of the social entrepreneur and the expectations of the financiers of such ventures
  • Courses relating to BoP segments such as Marketing to BoP and rural marketing: the innovations needed in managing or tweaking the marketing mix of price, product, place, etc., to be successful could be analyzed through the case study

* GSMC 2014, IIM Raipur

This Case Pack Includes:
- Abstract
- Case Study

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