D.light’s d.sirable business success

But what really has us excited is the excitement at the consumer level.  If you have a chance, visit D.light’s website to see hear some of the remarkable stories of their customers and how light has impacted their lives. And also take a look at the letter that D.light just received from a resident in Orissa living in D.light’s first 100% solar village. We’ve got thousands and thousands of villages to go, but a very exciting start.

From a Nextbillion.net article on this disruptive company aiming to provide solar energy to India’s rural poor. This article emphasizes what is one of the most important aspects of a successful business, partcularly startups, which is knowing your customer and focusing on developing your entire business model to what they need and want.

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HaraBara Builds Greener Pastures

In the effort to connect “green” business manufacturers and suppliers, Jagdish Amin and David Wheat launched HaraBara in October 2008.  Businessworld features the duo’s new business-to-business platform:

HaraBara’s primary objective is to unearth ‘golden nuggets’: companies that are doing great sustainable work, and getting them to talk about it.

While there are plans to create a worldwide forum, the focus right now is on India.  The HaraBara Connect India site offers a clear benefit for greening businesses in the country:

Thousands of Indian companies are dealing with environmental and green challenges. Share experience with other Connect members facing green concerns. Find out what works and what doesn’t work.  Access proprietary HaraBara databases, undertake joint projects, and establish new connections. Save time and money dealing with green issues.

The online platform allows a quick and easy way of making connections in the green indsustry, and as a result, could promote faster progress of environmental efforts.

Perhaps more interesting is the founders’ explanation to Businessworld of what prompted them to start HaraBara, when a “client wanted to sell solar lanterns in rural India but wasn’t able to develop a local distribution network.”

“We realised that companies would find it useful to have a website that gave them access to customers and suppliers, and that helped them figure out local laws and regulations,” says Wheat.

I’m sure there are other industries which face a similar challenge when trying to start up operations in a new location.  For that reason, HaraBara is a great example of turning a roadblock into a far-reaching solution.

A Mighty Way to Light Up Rural India

MightyLight, a product created by Cosmos Ignite Innovations, is reaching 15,000 children, thanks to an effort by eBay.  Since children are unable to study at night without a light source, the MightyLight is a way to improve education, among other issues.  eBay employee Anna Sidana and her nonprofit One Million Lights were key drivers in this gift.  MightyLight, according to an IndiaWest article, has many benefits.  The product is:

a solar-powered LED light that is eco-friendly, robust and built specifically for rugged conditions. It can withstand falls on hard surfaces and water or dust without being damaged. The Mighty Light produces ~500 lumens of clean white light versus ~10 lumens of light from a kerosene lamp. Other benefits of the solar light extend to health and the environment with no harmful carbon emissions.

Cosmos Ignite Innovations itself is an interesting venture, as it is a partnership between Cosmos Energy in India and Ignite Innovations in the US.  With millions of people in rural India still using kerosene, the potential for scaling up the environmentally safe and affordable light is substantial.

Tech Winners Starting Small, Scaling Up

Remember the Tech Museum Awards? The award “honors innovators from around the world who are applying technology to benefit humanity.” The 25 winners were announced yesterday, with two innovators from India. MercuryNews.com covered the ceremony in San Jose, California and met with the winners, including DESI Power and Digital StudyHall.

First, DESI Power is based in Bangalore and utilizes affordable and reliable electricity:

Hari Sharan employs 19th-century biomass gasification technology to bring electricity to rural Indian villages. His company, DESI Power, converts vegetation — such as rice hulls and corn husks — into energy. Not only does that provide power to poor communities, it also creates opportunities for micro-enterprises that keep residents from migrating to the slums of big cities.

TC-I covered another unique way of converting vegetation to energy via rice husks. There is tremendous potential to scale up with these plants, and DESI Power is already operating four plants and increasing to twenty next year.

Another creative use of technology aims to strengthen education. MercuryNews reports on Digital StudyHall, which is actually a research project out of a US university. Continue reading

Update: Envirofit is taking it up a notch

Not long ago, we had written about Envirofit, a company that manufactures and sells clean burining high-efficiency cookstoves to consumers in India.

Nextbillion reports that they have already sold 10,000 stoves and are ramping up production quickly. Of course, its a drop in the ocean, but definitely a great start. Congrats!

Solar lanterns for street vendors

NGO Post has an interesting story on a solar micro-enterprise in Hassan District in Karnataka. The business operates a battery charging station powered by solar photovoltaic panels and rents out solar powered CFL lamps street vendors. On an average, the vendor pays $0.25 per day for renting out the lamps and the business services 120 street vendors.

The business is supported by Small-Scale Sustainable Infrastructure Development Fund (S3IDF), a pioneering organization supporting small enterprises in India. The technology support comes from SELCO India a leader in affordable solar solutions for the poor (our previous coverage of SELCO is here)

Read the complete story [via NGO Post]

Two Cleantech Conferences to Watch For

Cleantech Group LLC, a leading resource in the cleantech space is holding two conferences this year. The first one is in Mumbai and the second is in China. Vinod Khosla, a premier venture capitalist, is the chair of the India program. Details for Mumbai conference are below:

Cleantech Forum XIX- From IT Outsourcing to Cleantech Resourcing
October 7-9, 2008; Renaissance, Mumbai; Mumbai, India

One of five international forums, the meeting in Mumbai, India,
connects Indian investors, technology innovators, policymakers and
other cleantech influencers with their counterparts from Asia, Europe,
North America, the Middle East and the globe.

Phone: (810) 224-4310
E-mail: sales@cleantech.com
Web site: http://cleantech.com/mumbaiforum08