SIDBI’s EWEE Initiative: Empowering Women Of Rural Bharat Through Electric Mobility – Indian PSU

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With an aim to accelerate the deployment of electric vehicles in line with EV30@30 and increase the adoption of EVs in Rural BHARAT, Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI), the country’s principal financial institution for MSMEs, announced a developmental support to empower women in form of blended finance funds such that credit access by rural women aspirants is eased. In partnership with Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) and partnered NBFCs the scheme brings different partners such as OEMs, NRDC and DFI on board.

The current programme called EWEE (Empowering Women and Enhancing their Business through E-Mobility) was announced by Chairman and Managing Director, SIDBI, General Secretary, SEWA, MD, Revfin, MD AMU in presence of leasing, and representatives from OEMs, NRDC, SEWA members and other stakeholders in an online event attended by over 100 participants including.

The scheme has been formulated as an extension to the first-of-its-kind rural e-mobility demonstration pilot (for supporting women entrepreneurs launched by SIDBI, SEWA and Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC) on January 25, 2024. The pilot was aimed to increase transportation equity, improve air quality, and enhance rural livelihoods through the adoption of EVs.

E-WEE will support inspirational and aspirational SEWA sisters initially in the two states i.e. Rajasthan and Gujarat. Thereafter it will be scaled to other states. The outcome will provide invaluable insights for formulating future national and state-level policies for electric mobility adoption in rural India. Another potential outcome can be alleviating the perceived risk among the potential adopters and financial institutions resulting in increased financial products, thereby boosting the adoption in real India improving quality of life and more employment opportunities. After this step SIDBI and SEWA shall work on risk mitigant models to induce credit flow.

Shri Sivasubramanian Ramann, CMD, SIDBI said “The rural India is critical for the nation’s development and the women are the backbone of it. The empowerment of women at the grassroots level is important to build the nation. One of the many ways to empower women is to improve the mobility options in rural parts to encourage them to start their businesses, job opportunities, etc. The role of SEWA to bring these entrepreneurs together to support their journey and build a community that supports each other as well is laudable. To manage the community of the SEWA sisters spread across vast geographies of India and spreading awareness among them is a humungous task but the enthusiasm of SEWA sisters to support each other under the guidance of SEWA leadership is making it possible.”

CMD SIDBI advised that phase 1 target of rural e-mobility should be fifty thousand 2 and 3 e wheelers.

The E-WEE project brings the firm intent to ease mobility of women entrepreneurs of SEWA by providing access to affordable finance to purchase electric two-wheelers with the support of Revfin and AMU Leasing Pvt Ltd. The scheme will serve a multi-purpose i.e., it will increase access to affordable finance, second it will also empower the women by having ownership of the green asset and encourage other women to switch or adopt the clean mobility options.”

Jyoti Macwan, Secretary General, SEWA said “The SEWA sisters appreciate the efforts made by SIDBI to bring down the financial cost of owning vehicles for the sisters through the project. We also thank the OEM partners and the NBFCs implementing this project. The steps taken to support and promote these entrepreneurs are important for society as well as the economic growth of the country. We are also targeting the uptake of 50,000 electric vehicles among the SEWA sisters within a year.”

The participants specially OEMs & NBFC interacted with SEWA and CMD, SIDBI to make this project more successful and future targeted interventions. One of the suggestions was to create a complete ecosystem for the electric two and three-wheelers by imparting training to SEWA sisters to repair the vehicles as well. Since, these sisters are based in different villages and the dealers might not be present everywhere, it is imperative to make these sisters self-sufficient. This will not only increase employment opportunities but also increase the confidence of potential users of electric vehicles. A collaborative effort needs to be made among different stakeholders i.e., SEWA sisters, OEMs, and NBFCs to accelerate the adoption. One of the suggestions was to use the electric three-wheelers for different business opportunities. These will improve the swift access of the services to the people living in the villages. It also came forth that different business opportunities leading to rural employment and income can be woven around EV eco system.

It is also worth mentioning that SIDBI’s mission 50KEV4ECO under the guidance of NITI Aayog is creating a visible impact. Few key initiatives taken for EV adoption include –

(i) under 50KEV4ECO two schemes viz. Direct lending and Indirect lending to NBFCs, assistance is provided to several Fleet operators, charging companies, swapping companies & NBFCs.

(ii) SIDBI has Operationalised pilot Electric Vehicle- Risk Sharing facility (EV-RSF) with the support of Shell Foundation for e-2w and e-3w.

(iii) for deepening understanding e-book on Unlocking e-Mobility* [] had been released.

Further, SIDBI is working with multilateral/ bilateral to shape various instruments for EV adoption by improving the access to finance as well as move the market towards sustainable financing options and also with other philanthropic organisations. To get ahead of the curve in terms of adoption happening in the leading countries, SIDBI is working on tailor-made financing products as per requirement of stakeholders.

Mr Sameer Aggarwal, Founder & CEO, Revfin and Ms Nehal Gupta, Director, AMU leasing Private Limited presented scheme details and way forward to scale the collaboration at PAN India. SIDBI’s empanelled partners NBFCs will aid SEWA sisters at affordable rates and concessional terms using blended credit support from SIDBI. Mr, Nitish Arora, NRDC shared its priority on building enterprising rural ecosystem. SIDBI CGM for Green Climate Finance, Dr. R K Singh took each participant through SIDBIs developmental & financial bouquets aimed at turning the enterprise eco system green and how women are being prioritised for building the green enterprise eco system.

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