Rural empowerment: one woman at a time

This NGO is Certified


Tilonia, Rajasthan | India

Previous ranks

Last year : 15
2 years ago : 18


Health, Economic Empowerment, Education, Community Building, Energy

Our opinion

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

Facts & Data

Official Website http://www.barefootcollege.org/

Countries of operation India and 77 others

Countries where legally represented India

Country where headquartered Tilonia, Rajasthan | India

Type of organisation nonprofit, social_enterprise

Number of employees 268

Year founded 1972

Current CEO Meagan Fallone

Preceded by Bunker Roy - Founder

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
Email: contact@barefootcollege.org

Employment opportunities View opportunities

NGO Name

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.


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 organisation, 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.

Tilonia, Rajasthan | India


Tilonia-305816, Via Madanganj
District Ajmer, Rajasthan, India
Phone Number: +91 (0)1463 288351 or +91 (0)1463 288210
Fax: +91 (0)1463 288206
Email: contact@barefootcollege.org
Tilonia-305816, Via Madanganj, District Ajmer, Rajasthan, India
Meagan Fallone, CEO
+41 788322387
Meagan Fallone, CEO
+41 788322387
Sue Stevenson
Sue Stevenson
63% M | 37% W
registration in Rajasthan, India, as a section-8 Company under the Companies Act, 2013
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