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 www.acumenfund.org or contact Keya Madhvani at kmadhvani@acumenfund.org or Elizabeth Patella at epatella@acumenfund.org.

###

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 www.acumenfund.org 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. http://www.avani-kumaon.org/

Comments

Acumen Partners with AlphaSights to Better Access Global Expertise

In our work investing in social enterprises that deliver critical goods to the poor, there is a substantial amount of work to evaluate each investment opportunity. A critical part of the diligence process, particularly when it comes to emerging markets, is speaking with industry experts who can provide reliable information about sector trends, market dynamics and public policy – all of which affect our evaluation of potential investment opportunities. [Read More]

DE-BUNKING THE BURDEN MYTH: IMPACT DATA GOES LEAN

Our manifesto begins, “it starts by standing with the poor.” Yet for good reasons, the sector has found it challenging to measure which customers are actually being served through social impact investments – getting accurate data on incomes is notoriously difficult and the logistical challenge and cost of conducting surveys in person prohibitive. [Read More]

Questions for Aspiring Leaders

Bavidra Mohan, Acumen’s India Fellows Manager, attended this years Aspen IDEAS festival as a Scholar. The Scholarship program was established to invite guests from around the world to bring a diverse set of experiences, voices and perspectives to the rich conversations that take place at the IDEAS festival each year. [Read More]

Give Impact Investing Time and Space to Develop

Impact investing has captured the world’s imagination. Just six years after the Rockefeller Foundation coined the term, the sector is booming. An estimated 250 funds are actively raising capital in a market that the Global Impact Investing Network estimates at $25 billion. Giving Pledge members described impact investing as the “hottest topic” at their May 2012 meeting, and Prime Minister David Cameron extolled the potential of the sector at the most recent G8 summit.  Sir Ronald Cohen and HBS Professor William A. Sahlman describe impact investing as the new venture capital, implying that it will, in the next 5 to 10 years, make its way into mainstream financial portfolios, unlocking billions or trillions of dollars in new capital. [Read More]

10 Books We’re Reading This Summer

What are you reading? It is a common question here at Acumen, an organization full of avid readers constantly trading favorite book titles that discuss leadership, impact, development and branding. Here are 10 stellar books we’re reading this summer. These books and others provide a framework of thinking, a spark of new ideas, a platform for debate. So, what are you reading? [Read More]

How Acumen Brought Back my Fire

Eda is an East Africa Regional Fellow from Nairobi, Kenya and is the Founder and Director of Halisi Trust, an organization that seeks to challenge the vices that plague society and encourage transformational development in Kenya’s youth. When Eda applied for the East Africa Fellows Program, she felt disillusioned and stuck. Below, Eda discusses how Acumen’s Regional Fellowship Program brought back her fire. Now, Eda has engaged nearly 6,000 people through outreach events and the Mkenya Halisi movement continues to grow. Acumen is currently accepting applications for the next class of East Africa Fellows. APPLY TODAY! [Read More]

Imagining the world as it could be

Christine Gitau is an East Africa Fellow and an enterprise coach at Craft Afrika, which provides business support services to craft entrepreneurs, enabling them build viable and thriving businesses in Kenya. At Acumen we often use the term “Moral Imagination” when talking about leadership. Christine wrote a reflection on how this concept has shifted her thinking. We could not be more proud of what she is building! [Read More]

How two Acumen Fellows are disrupting the education model in India

Whether its running youth soccer programs, providing vocational training services, or transforming the education system in India, Acumen India Fellows are driving real change in their communities.  Abbas Dadla and Abhilasha Sinha are India Fellows who are addressing the teacher shortage in India through the use of technology and peer collaboration. Find out what they are building below.  If you have grit, resilience and a commitment to creating change in your community in India, East Africa or Pakistan, we encourage you to apply for the Regional Fellowship Program! [Read More]

Meet Manjushree Patil, Founder of Aatman Academy

This month saw violent tragedies in Pakistan and Kenya, regions where Acumen works and which five classes of Acumen regional fellows call home. Among them there are dedicated teachers like Acumen India Fellow Manjushree Patil, crusaders against sex trafficking, builders of government, creators of liberating mobile medical technologies, and curators of slum sports programs. The need for strengthening the connections between those who are working for positive change against seemingly impossible odds has never been greater. We at Acumen have never been prouder to be the thread tying together these courageous individuals. Read more about Manjushree and how she is changing her community in India below! [Read More]