Expanding Access to Energy Through Innovation

Expanding Access to Energy Through Innovation

Boond Engineering and Development joins the Business Call to Action with a commitment to bring renewable solar power to millions across rural India

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Thursday, June 9, 2016 - 11:20am

CONTENT: Press Release

New Delhi, June 9, 2016 /3BL Media/ –  Boond, a social enterprise that strives to bring “energy to all” through renewable solutions, joined the Business Call to Action (BCtA) with a commitment to install 4,000 solar micro-grids across rural India by 2022, reaching 1 million underserved people in rural areas with its inclusive clean-energy initiative.

The BCtA is a global initiative that aims to support private sector efforts to fight poverty through its core business. It is supported by several international organizations and hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Boond’s inclusive business model takes three-tiered approach: ensure product quality (the company is ISO9001 certified), make renewable solar energy affordable for all and employ local community members in sales and service. Through its micro-grid business model and innovative pre-paid metering technology, Boond is enabling rural households to access clean energy 24 hours a day – the first initiative of its kind in rural India. To date, the company’s work has focused on the State of Uttar Pradesh, where close to 80 percent of rural households lack access to the electricity grid.  

According to Rustam Sengupta, Chief Executive Officer of Boond, “Our grassroots inclusive business model ensures that even the poorest households are able to afford clean, reliable energy. Households are able to access energy services for anywhere between US$2-4 per month. With solar micro-grids, we are able to reach customers who lack access to financing and who previously could not afford to invest in decentralized Solar Home Systems. We are committed to expand this initiative across India and beyond.”

Close to one third of all individuals without access to electricity – 350 million people – reside in India alone; 400 million suffer from acute shortages and unreliable electricity supply. Such households have no other option but to depend on kerosene oil to meet their lighting needs – which is expensive, unhealthy and potentially dangerous. A lack of access to energy for home lighting, mobile phone charging and other necessities not only constrains household living standards and productivity, but limits growth opportunities for the next generation.

As of 2011 only 1 million households in India used solar power as their primary source of lighting: the potential of clean, renewable solar energy to transform communities off-grid regions is far greater than is being realized. However, a shortage of reliable distribution channels, after-sales support, access to financing and high initial costs inhibit the large-scale adoption of solar energy. Although solar mini-grids are successful in addressing some of the challenges associated with decentralized home system, achieving operational and financial sustainability has been a far cry.

Boond’s inclusive model is addressing these challenges through innovative pre-paid technology, which provides off-grid households and businesses with 24-7 access to energy for the first time. Since its founding in 2010, Boond has provided clean energy to more than 40,000 households along with schools, banks, health clinics and small businesses; the company is installing 50 micro-grids in 2016 alone. By working with strategic partners such as financial institutions, Boond is able to extend financing to rural entrepreneurs and village institutions who cannot afford the up-front costs. Through research partnerships with leading academic institutions, such as Columbia University and New York Univeristy – Abu Dhabi, Boond develops a strong behaviorial understanding of its valued customers, optimize pricing structures and quanity its Social Impact.

“Boond’s pre-paid technology and partnerships for financing are bringing reliable solar energy to rural communities that have never before had access to electricity,” said Paula Pelaez, Programme Manager of the BCtA. “Beyond just lighting, this scalable initiative has the potential to transform people’s livelihoods and children’s education – fostering connectivity and sustainable growth.”

Boond anticipates US$350,000 in revenues from solar micro-grid sales during 2016, and this figure is expected to surpass US$1 million by the end of 2017. In order to improve its responsiveness to customers, the company is building an online platform to capture and analyze data transmitted from its micro-grids. By 2022, the company aims to reach 1 million rural people in India and is also exploring market potential in South Asia, Africa and Latin America.

For further information:

Business Call to Action: Tatiana Bessarabova: tatiana.bessarabova@undp.org

Boond Engineering and Development: Simran Grover: simran@boond.net

About Business Call to Action (BCtA): Launched at the United Nations in 2008, the Business Call to Action (BCtA) aims to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by challenging companies to develop inclusive business models that offer the potential for both commercial success and development impact. BCtA is a unique multilateral alliance between key donor governments including the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)UK Department for International DevelopmentUS Agency for International Development, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Finland, and the United Nations Development Programme — which hosts the secretariat. For more information, please visit www.businesscalltoaction.org or on Twitter at @BCtAInitiative.

About Boond: Boond Engineering and Development Ltd. is a social enterprise promoting alternative energy in northern India. Founded in 2010, the company aims to reach to remotest and most difficult geographic locations in order to provide widespread access to energy while generating solutions to social issues. The major focus of Boond’s work is providing customized solar solutions across the spectrum of communities, sectors and localities – including poor people in remote rural areas. By the end of 2015, the company had installed over 2500 kw of solar capacity, impacting more than 100,000 individuals and scores of small-scale enterprises.