By promoting homestay based tourism and the local handicrafts from these solar electrified villages, the Mountain Homestays initiative has not only connected these villages with the rest of the world but has also enabled the women of these villages to earn additional income and create a sustainable, scalable social enterprise.
The access to energy has played a crucial role in positively impacting the women of these communities who now not only maintain these solar microgrids that provide electricity for their homestay but they also promote the lighting and charging facility, as a feature of their homestay, to attract trekkers. An innovative approach which has enabled these women to be actively involved in the economic activities of their households.
The women from these villages are involved in a lot of activities like carpet weaving, cutting sheep wool, apricot and apple farming apart from many more activities related to handicrafts. Some of the more enterprising women try learning English so that they are able to communicate with the tourists and trekkers that frequent these areas.
During the summer months, the men leave the villages to either work as taxi operators, as mountain guides or are out grazing their animals. The women stay back in the village and carry out basic household work. Through the homestays development, these women are given an opportunity for income generation while staying back in the villages.
There is multi-fold benefit from this entrepreneurial venture of theirs which not only encourages them to continue staying in their villages rather than look for opportunities in cities but also promotes a proactive behavior change in these women who form the backbone of this society. This gives them the power to control their own lives both within and outside their homes, empowers them in making choices and gives them an opportunity to hone their hospitality skills being a big income generator for them and their families.