Oorja Development Solutions has raised $1 million in seed funding, with Schneider Electric Energy Access Asia (SEEAA) providing equity and the Water & Energy for Food Grand Challenge (WE4F) and the DOEN Foundation providing grant funds. This money will go toward agri-energy infrastructure projects and expanding the company’s operations and workforce in northern India. Cross Border Growth Capital assisted the company in structuring the transaction. Over the next 18 months, the funding will assist Oorja to expand its activities in existing and new areas in India. The organisation plans to develop its customer base in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar’s rural districts. By December 2022, Oorja will have deployed 121 solar projects in 22 clusters, affecting up to 6,000 low-income people. It will also recruit new talent for middle and senior management positions. The solar installations will provide gainful employment to 45 local residents and save roughly 200 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide. Gender equality is a priority for the organisation, which includes increasing the number of female farmers as customers and in its field workforce.
Oorja’s aim is to provide agricultural services to 10 million farmers around the world by 2030, allowing them to raise their income and quality of life in a sustainable way. It provides smallholder farmers with solar-powered irrigation, milling, and cooling services that were previously dependent on diesel engines for on-farm electricity. With the company’s intervention, farmers’ agricultural productivity will be increased, food systems will be strengthened, and carbon emissions will be reduced. Oorja has pioneered an inclusive pay-per-use approach. Users are charged based on the amount of irrigation water used, the amount of grains processed, or the amount of produce stored.
According to the company statement, Oorja’s customers are small-scale farmers who earn less than $100 a month. By switching from diesel to the company’s services, they can save costs by up to 50 per cent. Users can enhance their farming income by up to 100 per cent by increasing the number of growing seasons, cultivating new crops, and minimising horticulture produce post-harvest waste.