Press Releases

Acumen Fund Invests $250K in Avani Bio Energy to Electrify Low Income Households in Rural India

Inventive solution converts hazardous pine needles into clean and affordable energy

Mumbai, India, September 26th, 2012 – Acumen Fund, a pioneering nonprofit global venture fund addressing poverty across Africa and South Asia, today announced a commitment of $250K debt-equity investment in Avani Bio Energy Pvt. Limited, a growing company that creates pine needle gasification power projects for remote communities in northern India.

Based in Pittoragarh, Uttarakhand, Avani Bio Energy Ltd is part of the non-profit organization AVANI, and creates conservation-based livelihood opportunities by using renewable energy and other technologies to enhance the lives of low-income households in the Kumaon regions. Through its gasification process, Avani Bio Energy converts hazardous pine needles into clean and affordable energy. By feeding electricity into the grid, Avani is enabling villages in the region to increase their electricity access without becoming more reliant on hazardous energy sources such as kerosene.

“Avani’s work in this region has both a powerful human and environmental impact,” said Sachindra Rudra, Director of Acumen Fund India, “forest fires are rampant in the Kumoan region and proliferated by pine needles. Removal of these needles simultaneously reduces the risk of forest fires and provides the rural poor with safer and cleaner energy access.”

Acumen’s investment in Avani will allow the organization to create 20 operational plants within five years, providing reliable electricity for more than 58,000 people and enabling hundreds of households to move from kerosene to pine charcoal. The removal of the surplus pine needles will also reduce forest fires in an area populated by 7,500 farming families. Abhay Garg, an Acumen Fund Portfolio Manager, also joins the Avani Board Acumen Fund’s nominee.

“Energy access in the Himalayan region is a crucial issue right now,” said Rajnish Jain, CEO of Avani Bio Energy, “Pine-needle gasification creates an energy option that has the potential to dramatically improve the quality of life for thousands of low-income families, while enhancing the ecosystem.”

For additional information on Acumen Fund and its investment in Avani or in the Energy sector, please visit or contact Keya Madhvani at or Elizabeth Patella at


About Acumen Fund

Acumen Fund is working to create a world beyond poverty by investing in social enterprises, emerging leaders and breakthrough ideas. We invest patient capital in business models that deliver critical goods and services to the world’s poor, improving the lives of millions. Since 2001, Acumen Fund has globally invested more than $75 million in 69 companies. We are also working to build a global community of emerging leaders that believe in creating a more inclusive world through the tools of both business and philanthropy. Please visit for more information.

About Avani Bio Energy

Avani Bio Energy is under the umbrella of Avani a non-profit organization that creates conservation-based livelihood opportunities by using renewable energy and other technologies to enhance the lives of low-income households in the Kumaon regions. It was originally founded as the Kumaon chapter of the Barefoot College, and now works on development and dissemination of appropriate technologies and livelihood options. AVANI was founded and is run by the husband and wife team of Rajnish Jain and Rashmi Bharti, two deeply committed social entrepreneurs.


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