What could the role of an organisation like Schneider Electric look like when working with organisations, such as EWB, to reach the last mile – the very end-users in remote communities that are often the most challenging to reach?
This question was explored as part of EWB x Schneider Electric’s corporate partnership activation. In August, Schneider Electric, conducted Innovation Champions training at the Tonsley Innovation District in Adelaide – an opportunity for their internal staff to challenge their thinking.
EWB facilitated a training exercise that provide their staff champions insight into how EWB works in this space – listen and hear what EWB was doing to innovative, with a specific focus on, innovation trends and emerging tech. It aimed to enable the Schneider team to put into practice the innovation frameworks taught to them, as well as explore what this means within the Schneider.EWB partnership.
The two-part workshop over two days comprised a thought leadership presentation from EWB focussing on equitable energy access for last mile communities. Sam Perkins and Andy Drain (dialling in from Cambodia) who lead EWB’s Technology Development department, described the predicament of extending access to electricity for individuals or communities who do not live within proximity to planned electricity network infrastructure. Many of these communities lack physical access to the grid and are not able to access electricity through existing market mechanisms (e.g. because their electricity demand is not visible, is too expensive to create a connection, or there is no significant base-load etc). As a result “last mile” communities do not benefit from what can appear to be significant progress with regards to state-level “development”.
The team challenged Schneider Electric Innovation employees to determine how equitable, sustainable and year-around energy access be provided to rural Cambodians at the household level and in support of localised rural livelihoods? And what could the role of an organisation like Schneider, or their staff as individuals look like, in working with organisations such as EWB to reach the last mile?