After visiting one of the student’s homes she started to understand the problem. In some areas homes were packed together so tightly that there simply weren’t many points for natural light to enter households. And even those families with access to electricity used it sparingly because of costs, she said, and in many households the schoolwork needs of children were not a priority.
“I didn’t realize this was happening,” says Malpani, a Mumbai native who at the time was a student at St. Xavier’s College. “And so I started looking for solutions for how this problem could be overcome.”
Soon after, Malpani and some friends created Jal Jyoti, a social venture that has provided low-cost light sources — the rough equivalent of a 55-watt bulb — to more than 160 Indian homes using nothing more than recycled plastic bottles, water, and the properties of refraction.
That venture recently earned Malpani a 2017 OneEnergy Scholarship
, which recognizes graduate students who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and vision in the renewable energy field. The program provides several opportunities to help boost their careers, including mentorship from industry professionals, personalized career counseling, internships and networking prospects.
The scholarship is sponsored by OneEnergy Renewables, a leading developer of utility-scale clean energy projects, and Net Impact, a nonprofit that empowers transformational change in the workplace and the world.
“Of the many applications we received for the 2017 Energy Scholar program, Sanjna’s entrepreneurial spirit and success in breaking down barriers to access to renewable energy were standouts to our review team,” said Jennifer Barnes
, vice president of operations and communications at OneEnergy Renewables. “Not only does Sanjna exemplify the type of leadership the clean energy sector needs both now and in the future, but she is doing so in a sector that is statistically the furthest behind in advancing women and other minorities.
“Sanjna has consistently proven all of these longstanding barriers can be broken and she has done so with grace and success. We believe Sanjna will continue to exemplify what the renewable energy industry needs for innovation and advancement and we are pleased to support her career.”
hen Malpani started contemplating ways to address the challenge of lighting Mumbai’s households, her thoughts initially turned to solar power. But she soon found that a number of complications — high costs, not the least — would have made it a difficult match.