Empowering the rural poor requires strong partnerships and advocacy on behalf of marginalized communities.

Driven by a culture of social justice, we value every individual for the role they play in the development of their community. Our ground partnerships and collaboration inspire community engagement and positive change.

Our Impact

Targeting Sustainability Goals

Sustainability Goals

Local partnerships

We partner with a network of 14 rural grassroots organisations, called SAMPDA, which use Barefoot Solutions to address community issues. SAMPDA organisations operate independently from The Barefoot College, but we maintain relationships within the network to increase collaboration and efficacy, as well as exchange ideas and share experiences. Together, the SAMPDA network develops and innovates low-cost methods of empowering rural communities.

Local partnerships are essential to The College’s continued service and expansion. When we enter a new region, we secure partnerships with host governments and local organisations to establish both grassroots and governmental support of the project.

Access for all

We believe that all people deserve access to energy, education, water, better health and sustainable livelihoods. Seventy-five percent of the ultra-poor live in rural areas with limited or no access to these necessities. However, many conventional development solutions have failed because they neglect the knowledge, wisdom and skills of the communities they aim to serve.

By combining traditional skills with experiential learning, we create development solutions that work for the people with whom we partner. The College puts new technologies in the hands of the rural poor and sets the stage for them to become agents of change in their communities.

Empowering women

When poverty prevails, women suffer. They are unable to exercise their full agency and human potential. In its 2015 Sustainable Development Goals, the UN advocated for gender equality. This global shift toward recognizing and empowering women is welcome news to our organisation, which has cultivated women as the backbone of village life for decades.

Our first Mehila Mela (women’s gathering) took place in 1985. The Mela attracted 1,000 women and ended with the first ever protest against rape and gender based violence in Rajasthan. The Mehila Mela has since become an annual event, organized by Indian women on the 8th of March.

Least developed countries

Indigenous and tribal communities face the greatest threat from conflict, climate change, and natural disasters. As the world’s only college for the rural poor and the first fully solar electrified college campus, The Barefoot College has a proven track record of bringing light, water and education to communities outside the reach of mainstream development programs. We build lasting relationships with communities in the world’s least developed countries, while advocating globally for the establishment of decentralized, community owned and managed renewable energy models. Our campuses offer solutions to improve the health and the skillset of each country’s rural populations and economies.

A Story of Impact

80+ NGO partnersaround the globe
14Government partners
3,817 peopleattended village meetings in 2014

Working together for a better world

In partnership with the World Wildlife Fund, we invited women from a rural village in Madagascar to join Barefoot College in Tilonia. After an all day meeting with the entire community, the villagers selected seven women who would become solar engineers. After six months in India, studying with other women from villages all over the world, they returned home equipped with the tools to implement safe, sustainable solar energy in their community and share their knowledge with others.

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