A few questions to consider
1. In 2009, SELCO was looking at several options for expanding its operations (i.e. geographical expansion, serving poorer segments of the population, product-line extension). What are the costs and opportunities associated with each option? While nothing precludes exploring more than one option, which direction would you recommend to Hande as the most promising?
2. What role do decentralized energy solutions play in helping India solve its energy problems? Can “soft path” solutions play a significant role in development or is India’s future dependent on implementing “hard path” improvements to the grid?
3. Why did SELCO’s plan to expand with franchised dealers fail? Are there ways the company could have organized its franchisees to make the program succeed? What does the failure of the franchised dealers say about other plans to expand?
4. How has Hande’s desire to structure SELCO as a for-profit enterprise influenced the growth of the enterprise? Characterize the new investors in SELCO-India following the company's reorganization. How do these investors differ from traditional investors? What lessons can you draw from SELCO’s experience in running a for-profit company that has a social mission?
5. Given the cost of customizing energy solutions, how big a role can SELCO play in helping India’s disadvantaged? What steps could be taken to increase the company’s impact?
6. Consider how SELCO worked to create a new value chain in supplying light to street vendors. Are there other ways in which the company could create new classes of entrepreneurs to supply energy? Why did SELCO’s design of the street vendor program work when its franchise dealership plan did not?
7. Consider how SELCO was able to use solar energy to power sewing machines. Are there other ways that reconsidering energy requirements for western-designed appliances or machines could help Indian entrepreneurs or families adopt sustainable energy sources?
8. Miner’s helmets were an inspiration for the solar lights for midwives. Are there other ways to adapt other common designs to new uses that would make sustainable energy available to other segments of the Indian populace?
9. SELCO has done bigger projects for large institutional clients (e.g. the Buddhist monastery). Does this work detract or add to the company’s efforts to serve the poor? If it were cost effective, would you expand SELCO’s efforts in gaining such clients?
10. SELCO has attempted to institutionalize the design process at the company. What are the pros and cons of developing a separate design group? How could the operation of the design group be made more useful?
11. How would you describe SELCO’s approach to marketing? How might SELCO improve its effort in this regard?
12. Consider SELCO’s partnership with SEWA. What are the advantages of the collaboration? What could be some of the dangers? What kinds of other organizations might SELCO approach to build mutually beneficial partnerships?