This profile was prepared when Tri Mumpuni was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2006.
The New Idea
For Mumpuni, the key to bringing about rural electrification is keeping the system community-based. The sustainability of the project depends heavily upon the community ownership of the system. It allows the community to have equity in funding the system, make decisions for its design and operation, and develop the rural programs that will benefit from the generated revenue. All of these endeavors are made possible through the local cooperative mechanism Mumpuni has introduced. Aside from local ownership of the off-grid system, the sustainability of the system is very much influenced by market forces. Most local micro-hydropower operations fold once the state-owned and subsidized electricity company, PLN, enters the market. Mumpuni has been able to connect the community-based off-grid system to PLN’s grid. This link is crucial because the community is now able to sell their power supply to the PLN and gain revenue from the deal. This business model has attracted private investment as well. Along with her organization, People Centered Economic & Business Institute (IBEKA), Mumpuni facilitated a local business partner and the community of Cinta Mekar of West Java to pilot a public-private partnership model where both provide equity funding for the system. The provision of rural micro-hydropower (MHP) plants has now become an economic investment activity. The United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) adopted it as a Public Private Partnership model in the Asia Pacific region. Slowly, the financial barriers to develop the MHP system are being removed. A legal framework, however, must be in place to facilitate the spread of the model. Mumpuni has also been working on lobbying the government to establish a rural electricity finance institution.