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Nuru Energy to empower: rural energy entrepreneurship in India


Many rural households in India are unconnected to the electricity grid.  Currently, over 90% of these households use kerosene for lighting and cooking. Kerosene is both expensive and a serious health hazard. In several Indian states, respiratory diseases from its inhalation account for over 24% of child deaths under the age of five.

With seed-funding from the World Bank, UNEP and UNDP, a company called Nuru Energy has developed individually-recharged, modular LED lights and the world’s first commercially-available pedal generator, the Nuru POWERCycle. Together, these form the most effective and affordable lighting solution currently available to extremely poor rural households at the “base of the pyramid”.

Through a network of village level entrepreneurs (VLEs) trained by Nuru and financed through a national microfinance partner BASIX, a network of microenterprises  facilitates the spread of renewable energy services to remote areas.


Photo (right): Guarav Malik



To demonstrate the commercial viability of the Nuru POWERCycle system for off-grid rural households in the Indian states of Orissa, Bihar and Jharkhand

Main Activities

  • Set up 20 village level entrepreneurs each in the Rayagada and Kandahmal districts in the state of Orissa; in the Gaya and Nawada districts in the state of Bihar; and in the Deoghar and Dumka districts in the state of Jharkhand, for a total of 120 VLEs
  • Pre-identify pools of potential entrepreneurs via BASIX, select the VLEs and train them in accounting, rural marketing techniques, sales and technical service, and invoicing
  • Provide each entrepreneur with a start-up kit from Nuru Energy including a POWERCycle, a wooden frame, marketing material and an initial microloan of 20 lights.

Expected Impact

  • 12,000 lights distributed to 8,000 off-grid rural households spanning 360-600 remote villages (60-100 villages in each of the 6 districts)
  • 0.08 tonnes of CO2 displaced annually by each light; with an estimated 960 tonnes of CO2 displaced over the duration of the project
  • More disposable income in poor households: total savings of US$ 50,000 for the targeted households during the project timeframe, and an estimated US$ 150,000 saved over 3 years
  • Sustainable livelihoods provided for 120 entrepreneurs and their families
  • Improved health in households where kerosene is replaced, better light for reading and studying


Photo (left): Guarav Malik

Programme Sector
Renewable Energy (RE) (Business & Finance)
2011 - 2013
€220,628 including co-funding from Lights For Life International, BASIX
Implementing Agency
Nuru Energy
REEEP grant funded by
United Kingdom
REEEP grant funded by