With electricity comes consumption– Do providers have moral obligation to educate consumer?
One of the biggest demands that I have seen out in the field is for solar energy systems that can power televisions. For someone like me that does not watch a lot of television and can see the negative effects that marketing can have on people– in terms of shaping their needs and desires– I must ask myself whether television will have a positive influence in the lives of rural clients that obtain solar energy only for the purpose of entertainment.
The most powerful kit that Quetsol sells is able to power an energy efficient television for 3 hours a night plus the lighting capabilities (5 bulbs for 3 hours each, or 15 total light hours). Lots of customers would literally die to have television in their homes, sacrificing buying more nutritious food for entertainment. Therefore, I have had many discussions on this topic with Alex Place, my internship supervisor and Babson College alumnus, who is very keen on ensuring that Quetsol clients aren’t introduced to consumption in the wrong way. Because the clients have to use their property as collateral in order to obtain the micro-finance, this can be a huge risk for clients in obtaining the larger systems which come with larger monthly payments that the clients must pay.
One aid that Quetsol is developing in order to ensure that clients are responsible with their money savings is g a comic that will illustrate one family that uses the solar energy kit and the subsequent savings responsibly (buying more nutritious food and educational tools for their children) and another family that spends their savings on soda, sweets and uses all of their electricity on watching television, instead of making sure their children study. The goal of the company Im working in is to improve people’s lives through electricity, this is something we should have in mind at all times since providing electricity to people can also be detrimental.
I think guiding clients towards using their money to improve their lives further is a very good idea as Quetsol clients could end up in a worse situation if they are not smart about how they use their system.