At the heart of the Pollinate Energy operations are our micro-entrepreneurs – our Pollinators. Women and men, often from vulnerable backgrounds themselves, who are equipped with training and support to distribute our sustainable products in communities.
Soma is just one of our hard-working Pollinators, based in our Kolkata Hive. This is her story.
Even though Soma wanted to continue her education, her father forced her to marry a much older man when she was just 16. Her son, Subhajit, was born two years later.
“My husband was very sick early in our marriage and his medical bills were so expensive that sometimes I couldn’t even buy milk for my son.”
But things got much worse. Her husband died of a heart attack, leaving her to provide for their then 5-year-old.
Shortly after, Soma’s father also died. In addition to the emotional burden, there was another upheaval and further stretch on resources: Soma’s mother came to live with them in their basic accommodation in Kolkata.
With her scant education and skills, there weren’t many options to feed the family: Soma made a meagre income of the equivalent of around A$10 a month by making paper packets.
“I always felt like I deserved better. If my father had allowed me to study I would have been better able to support my son.”
But necessity is the mother of invention. She came across Pollinate Energy and her life started to turn around.
Not only do we help tens of thousands of people in India’s tent cities get access to sustainable, life-changing products, crucially, we also provide a livelihood – and hope – to people like Soma.
She now earns up to 20 times more than she did making paper packets.
“Now I’m very happy. I’m able to manage my money and even save a little bit some months.”
Her son is now 12 years old and doing well at school, while Soma is building a strong business and a great home life.
“I am very proud of my son. He’s a very good student and wants to be a doctor and help poor people get affordable treatment. He’s even helping me sell lights! He talked to his teacher about my work and they want to buy a light for the school!”
Soma also appreciates what her small business and Pollinate Energy are doing for others:
“Being a Pollinator means standing beside the poor and providing products that make their lives better.”
Without Pollinators like Soma, we simply can’t reach the thousands of families which are desperately in need — and burn kerosene while they wait. It is a dangerous waiting game: one which no-one wins.
By investing in more Pollinators like Soma, we will be well placed to continue to scale, and get our products into the hands of people who need them most.
Can you chip in $100, $50 or an amount of your choice, to help us give more opportunities to other vulnerable people like Soma?
All Australian donations are fully tax deductible.