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Over the past four years, a thriving market for household solar panels has sprung up in India, with the help of a United Nations programme which assists local banks in offering cheaper loans for the panels.

Since 2003, the $1.5 million programme has helped 16,600 Indians living in the southern state of Karnataka buy solar power systems for their homes and small businesses.

The project began by selecting five vendors of household solar panel systems in Karnataka. With funding from the UN Foundation and the Shell Foundation, UNEP helped train the vendors, who were having limited success selling their wares in India – despite some of them having businesses exporting to Germany.

In parallel, UNEP went to two local banks and discussed ways to make it easier for rural people to afford solar systems. They then matched up the banks and the vendors so that people seeking to buy solar systems at any of the five vendors would be directed to the two banks which could help them make the purchase affordable.

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