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Orb Energy

Providing solar home solutions and servicing for low-income customers in India

  • Company
  • Energy
  • India
  • 2011
  • Exited

The challenge

Forty-five percent of India’s rural population lacks access to reliable electricity. Many alternative energy options are priced out of the reach of poor customers, forcing them to maintain an unhealthy reliance on kerosene, which is hazardous, environmentally destructive, and can cost up to 15 percent of monthly household income.

The innovation

Orb Energy provides access to affordable, renewable energy through its solar home systems. Orb sells, installs, and services a full range of systems: solar photovoltaic systems for lighting and back-up power, solar thermal for hot water, solar street lighting for security, as well as energy efficient lights, fans and other appliances. Orb’s model is unique in its strong retail channel. The company reaches out to the market directly through its branch network and field force, allowing the company to better control quality, as well as offer superior customer care – services often lacking in the rural solar industry. With an upfront subsidy from the Indian Ministry for New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Orb arranges consumer financing options which allows low-income customers to pay over 5 years.

The impact

Acumen Fund’s investment will enable Orb Energy to extend its household systems to more rural customers, to scale its manufacturing, and to develop innovative products and financing mechanisms to meet the needs of its low-income customers. Orb currently operates more than 140 branches in five Indian states. Since Acumen’s investment, the company has installed over 100,000 systems.