Over 370 million people in India today lack access to reliable electricity from the grid, and a projected 75 million households will still lack access in 2024.
Making quality distributed renewable energy solutions affordable and accessible to this population is an enormous opportunity to leapfrog dirty energy technologies and expand economic opportunity for low wealth populations in India.
Finance and digital financial services can be a catalyst for climate change mitigation strategies through deployment of renewable energy in energy-poor areas. Digital finance technology has potential to de-risk finance, increase cost-effectiveness of payment collections, enable more efficient operations and formalize informal challenges.
The Indian market is primed for entrepreneurship in financial services. The proliferation of mobile phones creates an immense platform for extending financial services to the 600 million people. The policy environment in India is also evolving quickly. The Government of India has unveiled a range of policies that directly tie to financial inclusion and energy subsidies.
This confluence of trends—an urgent climate mitigation challenge, significant energy-poor population, government policy support for financial inclusion and the proliferation of mobile technology—presents an important opportunity to support entrepreneurs in distributed renewable energy.
The 2016 Village Capital Energy Access Innovation Summit was a two-part series that showcased innovative, early-stage, Indian startups that are creating business models and digital finance solutions to expand energy access for energy-poor households and businesses in India. The first summit was held in Delhi on March 30th, 2016 & the second in Lucknow on April 13, 2016. At the end of each summit, the top two ventures (selected by their peers & the audience) were awarded a cash prize of $1,500 each.
Participation in the summit is by invite only. Village Capital seeks entrepreneurs with innovative, market-based finance, technology and business model solutions that:
Make distributed renewable energy affordable for energy-poor households and businesses in India;
Develop and deploy digital finance solutions to de-risk payment collection, make collection more cost-effective, increase security of collection and formalize informal payments;
Reduce cost and increase operational efficiency in sales, distribution and customer service for clean energy products and services;
Expand distributed energy access by building upon government action.
Furthermore, eligible enterprises must
Have at least 1 full-time employee based in India
Have meaningful customer validation (this is not limited to revenue, can also include betas, pilots, strategic partnerships, etc.)
Fulfill at least 2 of the following conditions:
Rural / BoP focus
Significant off-grid energy operations
Innovative financing, payments, or distribution model for energy
Use of FinTech / digital solutions
Summit 1: 03/30 (Magnolia Room, Habitat Centre, New Delhi, India)
Summit 2: 04/13 (Grand Ballroom, Renaissance Hotel, Lucknow, India)