According to reports, solar energy product company Greenlight Planet has raised $10 million (Rs in funding led by Fidelity Growth Partners India to support its distribution expansion efforts in India and Southeast Asia.
The deal, which follows a $4 million series A round in 2012 led by global private equity firm Bamboo Finance, also saw participation from Deutsche Bank and Seattle-based impact investing firm Global Partnerships. The funds will be used chiefly for growing distribution of the company’s solar products as well as further product research.
“As a result of this financing, we’re building the world’s largest rooftop solar consumer base in emerging markets, and we’re investing especially to expand distribution in India and Southeast Asia,” said co-founder Anish Thakkar, 29.
Greenlight Planet was founded in 2007 by a team of student engineers at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and established offices in Mumbai in 2009. Today, the company has close to 700 employees across its offices in Africa, China, India, and the US, as well as over 6000 direct village sales agents that distribute solar lamps in India, Kenya, and Uganda.
To date the company has sold over 3 million solar lamps and phone charging devices across 30 countries in the world, predominantly in Asia and Africa, and covers nearly every state in India. It aims to reach 100 million off-grid households by 2020.
“We see tremendous potential to provide affordable solar energy solutions for consumers in emerging markets,” said Kabir Narang, managing director of Fidelity Growth Partners India, which focuses on cross-sector growth capital investing. “Greenlight Planet has established itself as a product leader with a strong brand in the fast-growing off-grid energy segment.”
According to reports published by the IFC, 1.2 billion people worldwide live off the electric grid and use inefficient kerosene lamps for light, of which over 800 million people in India and Southeast Asia. In Indian villages, many households pay Rs 20 for an hour and a half of dim light every day.
Greenlight Planet’s Sun King devices provide 16 hours of light to households daily, offset 1.5 million tons of CO2, and cost Rs 650. The company also recently launched the Sun King Home, which provides rooftop solar charging, overhead lighting fixtures, and a centralized power station for household appliances.
Yesterday it also launched Easy Buy, a pay-as-you-go platform that enables customers to purchase Sun King solar lamps in staggered 10-week installments. Easy Buy was piloted in Kenya a month ago, leading to a threefold increase in sales.
“Incomes increase thanks to extended working hours after dark, children study more, and the danger of a catastrophic kerosene lantern fire is eliminated,” added Thakkar.