[Update (Apr 8, 2013): Simpa’s CEO Paul Needham wrote back with a few details. ADB joins other investors such as Schneider Electric, DOEN Foundation, Invested Development, Hilti Foundation, Village Capital and some HNI angel investors that either joined this round or participated in earlier rounds.]
Bangalore-based Simpa Networks recently closed a $2 million Series B round with Asian Development Bank. I serendipitously found out as I wrote an impromptu comparison of Pollinate Energy and Simpa Networks last night. I have an email out to their CEO (Paul Needham) with a bunch of questions but here’s what we know so far. Extracts from this Mar 19 ADB press release:> More than 60,000 households in rural India will have better access to electricity by 2015 as Simpa Networks, a company supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), scales up the sales of its off-grid, pay-as-you-go solar energy solutions.
“The success of this entrepreneurial venture could lead to increased venture capital funding for inclusive business models which deliver goods and services to those at the base of the economic pyramid,” said Aniruddha Patil, Investment Specialist with ADB’s Private Sector Operations Department.
Greater access to electricity in rural India will enable children to study beyond sunset, replace smoky fuels such as kerosene with clean solar energy, improve respiratory health of household members, and improve overall productivity of rural households.
“Our mission is to make clean energy simple, affordable, and investible. Our relationship with ADB will help us advance that mission, demonstrate the commercial viability of investing in small scale distributed solar, and mobilize more funds into the sector. The end goal, of course, is to expand access to clean, reliable electricity,” said Paul Needham, President of Simpa Networks.
According to Crunchbase.com, Simpa had earlier raised $1.1 million in VC funding in Dec 2010. And going by this Villgro article, they have also raised approximately $300,000 in grant money. The Villgro article also mentions 1500+ unit sales, which is very different from the “hundreds” number quoted in the Mother Jones article. I’m sure Paul’s responses will resolve this discrepancy.
Update (Apr 8, 2013): Needham states that both the numbers (quoted in the Mother Jones and Villgro articles) are wrong. They are currently not sharing the official product sales numbers.
If you are unfamiliar with Simpa Network’s pricing model, here’s Needham in his own words:
Customers make a small initial down payment, then pay per day to use the system. After the contract period has completed, the system unlocks permanently and the customer owns the system. So it’s pay as you go, leading to ownership. We aim for a term of 36 months. But there is an option to pay it off faster as well, and we see some customers take advantage of that benefit.