Solar solutions provider d.light raises $22.5 million
Mumbai: D.light, which sells solar-powered lamps in villages with unreliable or no electricity connections, has raised $22.5 million in a Series D round of funding, co-founder and chief executive officer Ned Tozun said on Wednesday.
The company has raised $15 million in equity from KawiSafi Ventures Fund, Energy Access Ventures, NewQuest Capital Partners and Omidyar Network. More than $5 million has come in grant funding from Shell Foundation, the US Agency for International Development, Development Innovation Ventures and UN Capital Development Fund. D.light has also raised some debt through SunFunder.
San Francisco-based D.light will use the funds to expand its distribution network, financing solutions and product portfolio. The company was started 10 years ago by Tozun and Sam Goldman.
India, where d.light first started selling its products a decade ago, contributes to a little more than half of the company’s sales. Sub-Saharan Africa is its other key market.
D.light, which sold around 4 million solar lamps and larger solar-powered home lighting systems in financial year 2015-16, has grown at around 60-70% year-on-year over the past three years, Tozun said in an interview.
The addressable market for off-grid solar products is more than 2 billion people across the world, he said.
“There are several estimates that globally around 1.2 billion (people) do not have access to electricity, and on top of that there is another 1 billion who have a grid connection but which is highly unreliable. So, it’s a pretty huge market,” he said.
“There is also a big market for appliances such as fans, mobile charging, television etc.,” Tozun said.
“We believe that like mobile phones leapfrogged the landline in many parts of the world, solar is going to leapfrog the grid in many countries, because technologies are becoming much more efficient and financing for people, to be able to afford these products, is becoming more available,” he said.
Falling prices of solar technologies, LEDs and batteries are making it more and more affordable to build these solutions, he added.
The funding will help d.light build more holistic solutions for customers, apart from stand-alone lighting solutions. The company’s product range includes an entry-level solar lamp costing Rs.325 and goes up to solar home systems with multiple lights and mobile phone charging, which cost a little over Rs.2,000.