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Dutch impact investor DOEN backs energy venture SELCO India

SELCO Solar Light Pvt. Ltd, a for-profit social enterprise founded by Magsaysay award winner Harish Hande, has received an undisclosed amount in funding from Dutch impact investor DOEN Participaties.

A top SELCO executive told VCCircle that the company will use the fresh funds to expand its social interventions across five states.

Founded in 1995, SELCO delivers last-mile sustainable energy services and solutions to under-served households and businesses especially in rural India.

The Bengaluru-based venture facilitates financing, installation and maintenance of solar systems such as lights, water pumps, sewing machines and micro grids.

With its decentralised energy solutions, the company says it has served over half a million customers through its 45 energy service centres across Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Bihar and Tamil Nadu. It offers a slew of solutions including indoor home appliances, outdoor lighting systems and digital education tools catering to rural, urban, migrant, tribal segments.

SELCO Foundation, a not-for-profit public charitable trust set up in 2010, operates SELCO Innovation Labs, an incubation centre for renewable energy ventures.

“It is an honour to partner with DOEN in our quest to democratise essential services like health and education to the poor while ensuring social and environmental sustainability,” said Hande.

DOEN Participaties is the investment arm of the DOEN Foundation. It invests in enterprises that work towards sustainable and socially inclusive growth.

“This investment in SELCO India goes well with DOENs mission to accelerate the energy transition and provide energy access to everyone, as it gives SELCO the opportunity to reach even deeper into the poor segments of the population and enables them to further develop need-based products for the rural poor,” Michelle de Rijk, impact investment manager, DOEN Participaties, said.

DOEN joins a group of existing social investors on SELCO’s board such as The Lemelson Foundation, Good Energies Foundation and S3IDF.

The Dutch firm is already a partner in SELCO Foundation. In addition, DOEN had also shown interest in contributing to SELCO Energy Access Fund, the social venture fund launched by SELCO in 2016.

DOEN is also a limited partner in Zurich-based ResponsAbility Ventures which has an India arm that has invested in half a dozen companies including Janalakshmi Financial Services and Green India Building Systems and Services Pvt. Ltd. DOEN has backed Low Carbon Enterprise Fund which has an India focus.

Early-stage investment activity in the clean-tech and renewable energy sectors in the country has not yet gained momentum. World Bank’s private investment arm IFC and Infuse Ventures have special focus on renewable energy investments in India. Meanwhile, large solar and wind projects are the priority for growth-stage investors such as Morgan Stanley.

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