ONergy: ONergizing rural India through clean energy access

India, IndiaKolkata, India
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$1 million - $5 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

ONergy is a leading and rapidly growing energy access social enterprise providing decentralized solar energy solutions to rural households and institutions. ONergy has developed a full range of innovative solar solutions which it promotes through a strong last mile distribution and service network.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if we can provide a range of innovative solar solutions that solves numerous social and developmental challenges?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Despite numerous efforts, over 600 million people in India lack access to energy. ONergy operates in East India which is the most backward region, lacking basic infrastructure and accounts for 35% of BOP population. Poor quality and inappropriate products, failure of energy projects and lack of service network in rural areas have built a trust deficit with customers leading to unsustainability.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

ONergy provides an innovative approach to address challenges of energy access. (1) Technology Innovation: Apart from solar lighting, ONergy has developed unique products such as solar computers (for digital access), solar irrigation pumps & micro cold storage (for agriculture), solar microgrids (for livelihoods) with pre-paid and remote monitoring. (2) Business Innovation: Operating through a network of Renewable Energy Centres (RECs) thereby developing a complete ecosystem. A network of trained rural entrepreneurs and NGO/MFI partners are able to reach remote areas and provide prompt after sales service. (3) Financing Innovation: ONergy has developed innovative financing models to make its solutions affordable and within reach to the poor.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

We set up a Renewable Energy Centre (REC) in a rural area characterized by abject economical and energy poverty. The average monthly household income in such areas was INR 2000 – 4000 and these households spent 10% on energy needs. Through the REC model, we partner with local NGOs & MFI to access financing for solar projects, train SHG leaders in the marketing and distribution of solar solutions, and identify and train individuals in advanced solar technical servicing. With RECs and partnerships in rural areas, we are able to full range of solar solutions with quality customer experiences that can empower and improve the socio-economic condition of local communities.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Till date, ONergy has impacted 150,000 lives by promoting over 35,000 solar solutions through a network of 12 Renewable Energy Centres. IIX, Singapore conducted an independent impact assessment study on ONergy and awarded an “Impact Score of 12.5 of 15'' and SROI (Social Return on Investment) score of $7.80 of social return for every dollar spent. Qualitatively, ONergy has helped entrepreneurs and households increase their income generation by over $2 million USD, saved $900,000 in kerosene and fossil fuel costs, improved education, trained over 1000 rural entrepreneurs and technicians, and reduced CO2 emissions by 30,000 tons. ONergy has strong monitoring and governance as we have developed a mobile app for field force, customized sales force software, conduct surveys and also third party evaluations.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

We plan to impact 1 million lives by 2016 and subsequently 10 million lives by 2022. This would possible by increasing our product offerings, increasing our geographical coverage and increasing our penetration in the current area of operation. We plan to increase the number of RECs to 50 by 2016. ONergy has strong technology,grass root and financial partners. We continue to partner with organizations.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

ONergy operates a network of RECs that sell and provide service for a wide variety of solar solutions. The money is generated through margins earned on products sale and projects executed. We also earn service revenues through installations and after sales service. We already have attracted investments and funding from Rianta Capital UK, Halloran Foundation USA, Swedish International Development Agency, CIIE, MNRE-UNDP.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

While some of the approach and solutions have been practiced and pioneered by other organisations like Selco, ONergy has innovated on its business model and technology mix which makes it unique. Our aim is to provide end-to-end energy solutions from solar lighting systems to solar micro grids to promoting other innovative energy solutions. There are a number of energy access social enterprises but they don’t offer a full range of solutions. ONergy has also been promoting new delivery models for promoting solar irrigation, computers and micro grids.

Founding Story

The founding team quit international jobs to start an NGO, SwitchON, that was instrumental in spreading awareness about climate change and sustainable living. SwitchON reached out to over 60,000 people across India through its various campaigns. In 2008, we created a film on India’s energy security -‘Why New Coal’- to question India’s growth based on fossil fuels and to highlight sustainable and equitable alternatives. Through extensive travel, the gaps that existed in sustainable energy access became clear. In mid-2009, ONergy was registered as a for-profit enterprise to develop an ecosystem to provide complete energy solutions for rural India and address the gap within distribution systems and financing for such products.


ONergy’s current team strength constitutes of 80 full time members and is rapidly growing. The young and passionate founding members are well complimented by experienced professionals that make up the management team. As the organization grows, we intend to have a stronger middle level management that can effectively manage and grow the field level team of technicians and sales officers.Our management also gets the support of renowned advisors
About You
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Project
Organization Name
How long has your organization been operating?

Organization Country

, WB, Kolkata

Country where this project is creating social impact

, WB, India

What awards or honors has the project received?
Funding: How is your project financial supported?

Friends and family, Foundations, National government, Other.


Greenhouse Gases, Opportunities for Women, Inclusive Business.

Audience: Who have you identified as your customer/recipient groups and do these groups value your solution for different reasons? How do you engage different customer/recipient groups to deliver your solution?

Our recipients are India’s rural BoP who make up 114 million households. We work in the most backward regions of the country. Our target markets are states in East India, home to 35% of the total rural BoP in India,that lack access to reliable electricity. Currently, we work across 3 eastern India states. Our solution reaches rural communities through the REC model.Rural entrepreneurs & NGOs engage local communities to deliver solar solutions and provide affordable electrification.

Scaling the solution: How would the prize money and publicity help you to achieve your objectives over the next two years?

Funding and publicity will help us in new product development, connect with knowledge experts and open additional RECs. We plan to impact 1 million lives by 2016 by increasing our product offerings, increasing our geographical coverage and increasing our penetration in the current area of operation. We plan to increase the number of RECs to 50 by 2016. ONergy has strong technology, grassroot and financial partners. We continue to partner with organizations that provide expertise and knowledge and access into new areas.

Experience: Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered

Prior to starting ONergy, I along with 2 founders launched an NGO, SwitchON in 2008. SwitchON is now one the leading NGO working in the field of environment and sustainability in East India. We have worked extensively at the grassroots level over the last 6 years and conceptualized various successful projects such as Why New Coal, Environment Press and developing ONergy into one of the fastest growing energy access social enterprises.

Are you are eligible to attend the Accelerator event in Cambridge and subsequent events in London, UK in January, 2015?


Will you require a visa to enter the UK?


Are you are a current Unilever employee?


Jack Smith's picture

Good one Piyush, nice project. I like it.

J Thomson's picture

This brings lot of changes in Business involution.