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Proving quality and affordable, renewable energy technologies to rural India



Headquarters: India
Established: 2009
Impact Areas: India
Type: Hybrid
Energy Sectors:
Business Model Types:
Staff Size: 16 and 2 volunteers
Annual Budget: $200,000
Major Funders: Family, Individual Investors, Barefoot Angels Fund
Awards: 2010: William James Foundation business plan competition winner
2011: Unreasonable Institute Fellowship, Yale University PSE Program, Santa Clara Global Social Benefit Incubator


ONergy is a renewable energy venture providing lighting, cooking and electrification solutions to rural India. ONergy is building a unique full service rural distribution infrastructure for clean technologies.


Energy Products/Services

  • Solar LED Lamps (0.5-2W)
  • Solar Home Lighting Systems (2.5-15W)
  • Solar Home Electrification Kits (20-200W)
  • Improved Cookstoves
  • Solar Water Heating Systems
  • Solar Inverters and Electrification Systems (kW level)

Target Market

  • ONergy is focused on East India, which has over 40 million households with very little or no access to reliable energy.
  • East India is the most challenged region in the country in terms of energy access and other social parameters.
  • Paradoxically, this region is the richest in minerals and forms the coal belt of India.



Revenue Streams

  • Sale of renewable energy products

Value Proposition

  • ONergy provides complete energy solutions across lighting, cooking and electrification to rural households.
  • ONergy focuses on solving the last mile distribution problem. They do so by setting up Renewable Energy Centers (RECs) and creating an ecosystem by connecting technology, finance and grassroots organizations.
  • The RECs manage the entire distribution process providing awareness, training, servicing, and financing options to the beneficiaries – which is the missing link in the rural BoP market.

Problem Addressed

  • Lack of access to reliable energy by rural populations in East India

Where They Are Now

Impact to Date

  • 18,000 people benefited with improved lighting, cooking and electrification
  • 200+ women and youth trained
  • Average increase in household savings of $3-$5 per month
  • 60% households record increase in income
  • Reduced 300 tonnes of carbon emissions since 2010


  • 2008: Reached over 60,000 youth through environment advocacy
  • 2009: Policy action through 1800km bicycle ride and film WhyNewCoal
  • 2011: Operating 3 Renewable Energy Centers covering 120+ villages
  • 2011: Reached $140,000 in sales

Growth Plan

  • 2012: Expand into other states of East India. Increase product portfolio
  • 2014: Achieve breakeven with $2 million in revenues and 20 Renewable Energy Centers (RECs)
  • 2016: ONergize 1 million rural lives. Operate 50 RECs
  • 2022: ONergize 10 million rural lives

How They Deliver

Product Sourcing & DESIGN

  • ONergy sources its products from a number of different manufacturers, including SELCO.


  • ONergy got a great deal of support from solar energy pioneerSELCO, and one of the founders spent several months at SELCO headquarters to understand how they operate.
  • ONergy uses microentrepreneurs to do its distribution and marketing, based around its Renewable Energy Centers (RECs)
  • Each REC covers a 10 km radius comprising 30-50 villages, and functions as a direct sales point where ONergy stocks products, holds trainings, and conducts demonstrations.
  • Each REC has 2-3 salaried staff, who identify entrepreneurs, and make partnerships with NGOs and microfinance institutions to help them become distributors of ONergy products.
  • The partnerships give ONergy access to the NGOs’ locally recognized brands and networks, and ONergy sources products, provides after-sales service and uses its entrepreneurs to push sales.
  • Each center takes ONergy approximately 2 years to pay off.
  • One challenge ONergy sometimes has is that the entrepreneurs will try to increase the prices or make false claims about the product.   ONergy puts a large emphasis on training to discourage these practices.

Revenue & Affordability

  • Some of ONergy’s products, such as their solar lamps and smaller (2-5W) solar panel kits are small and cheap enough that customers can pay in cash.
  • Larger systems require financing, which is sometimes provided by partner MFIs.  ONergy is looking into modes for helping their partner MFIs access capital specifically for their products, including a partnership with Milaap, an Indian social enterprise similar to, which crowdfunds microfinance capital.
  • As ONergy becomes more capable of providing financing, they will become more focused on larger solar home systems.
  • ONergy is also now starting to establish charging stations, which allow customers to buy power on a ‘pay as you go’ model.  This is in an early stage however and is not yet profitable.
  • ONergy is partnering with rural banks and commercial banks that will provide consumer financing for solar systems.


  • ONergy has a hybrid model;  its nonprofit arm is responsible for training and capacity building, and its for profit supplies products to their rural entrepreneurs.
  • Currently ONergy is financed by the founders’ own money and investments from friends and family.
  • ONergy is currently in talks with investors, all equity, as foreign debt is illegal in India.

Social Impact

  • To measure social impact, ONergy has developed a form to assess customers’ increase in income and savings.


  • ONergy is looking at expanding both within its current state of West Bengal and beyond to Orissa and Bihar.
  • ONergy is also interested in expanding beyond lighting to explore other solutions to poverty problems.

More Resources

Online Resources

Contact Information

1A DL Khan Road

( +91-9831515911