Cleantech firm D.Light raises $10.5 mn from Norfund, others

D.Light Design Inc., a San Francisco-based solar lighting and power products maker that also operates in India, has raised $10.5 million (Rs 71.4 crore) in a funding round led by Norwegian state-owned investment fund Norfund.

The company secured $5 million in equity funding from Norfund and $5.5 million in grants from Beyond the Grid and Shell Foundation, it said in a statement.

The company, which operates as d.light, said it will use the capital to expand its operations and bring off-grid power to low-income families in Africa and Asia through its pay-as-you-go financing solutions.

“Demand for off-grid solar is taking off, and we’re now well prepared to meet the needs of customers who need our products the most,” said Ned Tozun, the CEO of d.light.

Founded in 2006 as a for-profit social enterprise, d.light makes and distributes solar lighting and power products to people without access to reliable electricity. So far, the company claims to have sold more than 15 million solar light and power products in 62 countries.

D.light operates five distribution hubs in East Africa, West Africa, India, Southeast Asia and the US. Tozun said d.light is on track to empower 100 million lives by 2020 and is seeking partners to help the company achieve this goal.

“In countries where energy access is low for the vast majority, solar has the ability to impact people living there in a multitude of ways,” said Mark Davis, head of clean energy investments at Norfund. D.light is bringing solar-powered solutions to rural households in these countries, he added.

Davis said the $5 million equity investment in d.light is being made through the co-investment vehicle KLP Norfund Investments. KLP is Norway’s largest pension fund manager.

The funding round comes barely four months after the company in September last year raised $22.5 million in equity and debt funding from investors including KawiSafi Ventures Fund, Energy Access Ventures, Omidyar Network and NewQuest Capital Partners.

Prior to that, it had raised $11 million in its Series C round of funding in March 2014 from investors including Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Omidyar and Nexus Venture Partners.

The solar light and power products segment is still at a nascent stage in India and hasn’t seen many deals in the recent past.

In February last year, US-based Greenlight Planet Inc, a designer and distributor of solar LED home lights, had raised $5 million in a round of funding led by Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

Solar power products firm Fourth Partner Energy Pvt Ltd had raised an undisclosed amount from The Chennai Angels in 2014.

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