Rural Empowerment: One woman at a time,

BAREFOOT COLLEGE is ranked 16 in TOP 500 World by NGO Advisor

NGO Advisor’s Opinion & Ratings

Imagine a 32-year-old woman living in a tent in a desert community in Jordan. With only five years of primary education under her belt, she travels to India for six months of hands-on solar engineering training, culminating in a return to her community with the skills to fabricate, install, and maintain solar power technology. This journey would scarcely seem believable, save for the fact that it has been replicated by Barefoot College time and time again. Founded by Bunker Roy in 1972 to provide basic services and solutions to problems in his native rural India, Barefoot College has since developed a form of popular education merged with grassroots social entrepreneurship that is renowned for its success in helping participants forge their own path out of poverty. Through Barefoot College, thousands of people have received training to become professionals in a variety of careers that help sustain their local economy and community, not to mention themselves.

Now imagine what poor rural communities could achieve with access to sustainable energy. Or better yet, read on to see for yourself. Relying on its army of newly trained solar engineers, Barefoot College envisions a world where collective benefit and personal independence unite to allow villages to become sustainably self-reliant.

6 / 10 Hiring Rating
7 / 10 Sustainability
6 / 10 Diversity on Funding Streams
7 / 10 Innovation Ratio
8 / 10 Transparency & Accountability
8 / 10 Independence from Governments
8 / 10 Independence from Corporations
8 / 10 Impact Measurement
7 / 10 Audit Results
8 / 10 Independence from One Funder


Organization Name
Rural Empowerment: One woman at a time,
English-Language Website URL
Other-Language Website URLs

Type of organization
nonprofit, social_enterprise,
Year Founded
Lead Photo For Profile
HQ Location: City, Country
Tilonia, Rajasthan | India
HQ Mailing Address
Tilonia-305816, Via Madanganj, District Ajmer, Rajasthan, India
Name of Official Representative for Profile
Harsh Tiwari, Chief of Staff
Primary Contact and General Inquiries
Tilonia-305816, Via Madanganj
District Ajmer, Rajasthan, India
Phone Number: +91 (0)1463 288351 or +91 (0)1463 288210
Fax: +91 (0)1463 288206
Is Your Organisation Membership-based ?

The Barefoot College is a not-for-profit social enterprise working towards financial sustainability, largely through the delivery of its community based solar programs and its artisan industries. We are a grassroots, Indian based, international organization, whose values are grounded in the life and approach of Mahatma Gandhi.

The extraordinary and unique concept of Barefoot College began more than 40 years ago in Tilonia, Rajasthan, India. In 1965, a young post-graduate student named Sanjit “Bunker” Roy volunteered to spend the summer working with famine affected people in one of the poorest of India’s states. This life-changing experience culminated in a personal mission to fight poverty and inequality.

In 1972, Roy and a group of like-minded individuals including residents of Tilonia shared a dream of grafting together formal urban learning with rural wisdom and knowledge, allowing the voices of the rural poor to be at the heart of creating their own solutions. This vision carried on the ideas shared and spread by Mahatma Gandhi. This central belief and respect became the foundation for Barefoot College. This mindset of inclusion and social justice continues to impact, inspire and educate people today.

Barefoot College was built by and exclusively for the poor. Since its inception, this innovative rural college has worked with marginalized, exploited and impoverished rural poor who live on less than $1 a day. The program helps lift them over the poverty line with dignity and self-respect.

The leadership is almost entirely non formally educated barefoot professionals. We recruit illiterate and semi-literate women from rural communities around the world. They are brought to Tilonia and trained holistically in cross-cultural cohorts and empowered to return to their villages with needed skills that can benefit all.

The College applies rural traditional knowledge to meet diverse objectives. Our catalyst for change starts with training women to be solar engineers. We spread socioeconomic messages at the grassroots level. We employ only those technologies that can be understood and controlled by rural communities to improve the quality of life of the poor.

Please Briefly Describe Your Economic Model.
A Hybrid Social Enterprise, Barefoot College fosters and supports a host of rural innovation, digital and financial technology, Solar R&D and rural enterprises by attracting formally educated young people to work side by side with non-formally educated rural innovators.



For the rural poor to be able to acquire and share practical knowledge in non-literate formats and in situations that are accessible to them and their life logistics, demystifying technology and putting it in the hands of villagers themselves. These communities are empowered to implement practices that create greater economic and social equity and enhance environmental sustainability. Rural women have the confidence to challenge patriarchy and discriminating gender roles, building more equitable societies and engaging more fully towards a 50/50 gender equilibrium in decision making. National and local governments in developing nations support and leverage the power of grassroots, community-led solutions that galvanize their most disadvantaged citizens to transform their livelihoods through the inclusion of non formally educated women at all levels. We believe in putting power in the hands of the poor.

What the rural, impoverished, and marginalized think important is reflected and internalized in the beliefs of Barefoot College. The Barefoot College is one of the few places in India where Mahatma Gandhi’s spirit of service and thoughts on sustainability, are still alive and respected.

Our College is founded on the following beliefs:

  • The knowledge, skills, and wisdom found in villages should be used for its development before getting skills from outside.
  • Sophisticated technology should be used in rural India, but it should be in the hands and in control of the poor communities so that they are not dependent or exploited.
  • There is a difference between Literacy and Education.
  • We must work towards a world in which women receive equal opportunities to men.

Click here to learn more about the inspiration and innovation that make up the Barefoot College approach.



Country (or countries) where active
India and 96 others
Latest Annual Report PDF
Alliances, Networks, and Affiliations

We partner with a network of 14 rural grassroots organizations, called SAMPDA, which use Barefoot Solutions to address community issues. SAMPDA organizations 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 organizations to establish both grassroots and governmental support of the project.

We have also entered the Global Memorandum of Understanding with Multilateral Agencies such as UNDP GEF SGP and UN Women and are proud to be part of the International Solar Alliance (ISA).


Recent Updates:

  2. This October 24th, the Fijian Government (Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation) and Barefoot College signed a formal agreement to construct a Barefoot College in Vanua Levu, North Fiji. The College will be focusing on the localisation of 11 sustainable development goals through and with rural Pacific Island Women across Fiji and 14 Pacific island nations. To follow more go to the link, Click here on our Press release on Fiji
  3. Opening of Burkina Faso centre



Contact Information for Press Inquiries
Sue Stevenson, Director of Partnerships
Contact Information for Fundraising Inquiries
Sue Stevenson, Director of Partnerships
Contact Information for Development and Partnership Inquiries
Sue Stevenson, Director of Partnerships
Contact Information for Inquiries from Private Sector
Sue Stevenson, Director of Partnerships

Human Resources

Full name
Meagan Fallone
Short Biography
Entrepreneur social and otherwise. Designer, Photographer, Writer and Explorer. Learning, Re-learning and Un-learning daily while being CEO of an International Social Innovation Organisation whose focus is placing women in their communities as agents of transformation through technology. Dedication to human value chain through enterprise that targets improved quality of life and dignity. Speaks to leveraging spectrum of philanthropic engagement and the power of diverse sector partnerships to make maximum impact. Dedicated to strong business practices that are committed to positive social and civil society outcomes.
Photo Portrait
Has Held Position Since
Preceded by
Bunker Roy - Founder
Full name
Short Biography
Preceded by
Number of Employees
Number of Unpaid Interns
Number of Paid Interns
Number of New Hires
Number of Newly Created Positions
Average Age of Paid Staff
Local Staff/Field vs Total Staff (%)
Staff Turnover Rate

Bylaws & Legal

Legal Status
Registration in Rajasthan, India, as a section-8 Company under the Companies Act, 2013
Year of Registration
1972, 2012, 2011, 2015
Are Your Bylaws Publicly Available ?
Are Your Bylaws Provided On Request ?
Provide a Request URL or Email
Countries Where Legally Represented
Is Your Organization Accredited to ECOSOC (UN)?


Latest Yearly Income (All Countries and Entities)
$ 3,73,4193
Latest Surplus/Deficit
Previous Yearly Income
$ 37,34,193
Latest Net Assets
$ 27,51,773
Latest Financial Statements