VilLgro Innovation Foundation, one of the country’s top social enterprise incubators has collaborated with the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) for a $2.5 million initiative to support start-ups working on clean energy solutions.
The initiative aims to provide dedicated capital, technical and sectoral growth support to at least five enterprises which are deploying innovative, clean energy-powered livelihood appliances and shall enable them to undertake large scale commercial deployments over a period of three years. Investment firms like Caspian Debt, Upaya Social Ventures and others have been roped in under the initiative.
Start-ups that leverage cleantech and renewable energy sources are slowly gaining traction in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Karnataka, which is home to one-fourth of all start-ups in the country has also emerged as the highest renewable energy producer according to a report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.
The initiative focusses on solving the problems around reliable electricity which has challenged many a business and also affects the livelihood opportunities and incomes of households. Villgrow said in a statement that the provision of energy-efficient appliances for providing reliable energy to households as well as industries has become imperative.
The Powering Livelihoods initiative will provide a grant of up to $250,000 to each enterprise working on commercial deployment of products or appliances.
Based on the needs assessment, enterprises would be provided support services (up to $100,000) through strategic partnerships. This includes mentoring, capacity building, financial planning and modelling, and assistance on compliance and legal issues, with an end-goal to scale up to commercial deployment, Villgro said.
Start-ups or enterprises deploying clean energy solutions and appliances like energy-efficient commercial food processors, cold storages, juicers, dryers, milk chillers, flour mills, milking machines, rice hullers, and oil expellers in agriculture and allied sectors would be prioritised.
Similarly, in the textile industry, enterprises deploying appliances such as solar charkhas, sewing machines and jute machinery would be supported, since they aim to improve productivity without harming the environment.
“India alone has a market worth more than $50 billion for clean energy solutions for rural livelihoods. ‘Powering Livelihoods’ aims to catalyze the transformation of India’s rural economy by scaling up the accessibility and commercialisation of clean energy-based solutions. By marrying CEEW’s deep expertise in evidence-based policy formulation and sectoral engagement with Villgro’s years of experience in growing businesses, the initiative will be highly significant in terms of capital, capacity building, and ecosystem support,” said Arunabha Ghosh, CEO, CEEW.