Renewable Energy for Rural India
Rural India conjures up many images, of farmlands, villages and a plethora of problems. Among these problems one stands out more than others, that of energy. . In a country where more than half the populous has a cell phone, basic amenities like energy and electricity are still a distant dream. Most of Rural India spends its nights in darkness and its days without power but all that is changing thanks to Vinay Jaju, Piyush Jaju and Ekta Kothari.
Their venture ONergy is a Renewable energy venture creating energy and keeping the environment safe. They told us more about how they will accomplish all this as well as how the business idea was conceived in an interview with Yourstory.
How is your company ONergy bringing about a change in Rural India?
ONergy is a renewable energy venture, committed to sustainability and equity. We provide complete energy solutions in rural India – from deploying solar LED lights to electrifying off-grid villages and subsequently provide clean cooking solutions.
We partner with Micro Finance organizations/NGO’s etc - to train and empower rural entrepreneurs who provide energy solutions in rural India. We are focused at eradicating the use of kerosene and diesel used for lighting and electrification in rural India and efficient use of biomass for cooking.
We believe energy is the core to India’s development and environment crisis – and to facilitate better health, education, clean water and agriculture – we aim to ONergize 1 million rural lives by providing decentralised renewable energy solutions across India, in the next 5 years.
What is the impact that ONergy will have on the future of rural India?
2/3rd of India does not receive clean energy - mainly residing in rural India and semi-urban areas. We work at replacing the use of fossil fuel - kerosene and diesel - used for lighting and electrification – so we are also looking at providing energy to telecom, food processing & storage etc in rural India.
We aim to “ONergize” 1 million rural lives in the next 5 years.
How does your business model benefit your rural demographic while remaining sustainable for you as a company?
We marry appropriate technology and innovative financing to create Renewable Energy Centres in partnership with MFIs/NGOs and deploy Lighting & Cooking products through a network of rural entrepreneurs, subsequently electrify villages.
We create value for our consumers by providing training and servicing for products and by delivery high quality products/service at affordable prices.
Our Competitive Advantage:
Affordability – Installment payment through MFIs and Banks
Customization – After understanding customer needs and pain points
Complete energy solutions approach
Infrastructure & Network for servicing
Training & Marketing support
How can you grow the business to reach more parts of India?
We setup Renewable energy centres in partnership with NGO’s and MFI’s, we plan to setup 100 REC’s within 5 years – serving over 10,000 villages across India.
Why did you choose to be entrepreneurs that give more than they take?
We chose to be entrepreneurs because we enjoy the freedom to follow our passions and to make a mark with whatever we do.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs who are yet to begin on their business ideas?
Start putting your ideas on the ground – it will grow into something beautiful – don’t just wait for a miracle (read funding) to happen.
What do you think limits the potential of an (Indian) entrepreneur?
Indian Bureaucracy and Indian Govt Offices – Nothing needs to be said of them.
Education – It not only makes one risk-averse, but also weighs you down with debt that take to pay tuition – while offering thick salaries which you don’t want to say no to.
What do you believe you could have done better as an amateur entrepreneur?
Taking too long to start – we spent too much time with too many technologies and ideas – and came back to start with our initial idea.
Has ONergy found recognition for its great work in the rural energy sector?
AEEI – Alliance for Energy Enterprise Innovation (AEEI) is a Consortium of Selco, Grameen Foundation, E+Co. Among the 4 selected across India.
FYSE – Foundation For Youth Social Entrepreneurship guides social enterprises with startup.
Hindustan Times BYCL – A platform to network with other entrepreneurs.
IIT Kanpur Next 50 – A platform to showcase 50 great business ideas.
Ennovent – Selected amongst the top 10 business idea.
What the vision you wish to achieve by 2011?
Provide 5000 solar lighting and electrification kits and electrify 10 villages by 2011.
Vinay Jaju, Piyush Jaju and Ekta Kothari are three entrepreneurs who we believe have the spirit to be able to achieve a great many things. It is not just their entrepreneurial acumen but their consciousness of action that makes them and Onergy stand out… We wish them luck and hope that they will continue to work for the benefit of others.