Research Activities:

ONergy sells a wide range of solar solutions to rural and urban customers throughout northeastern India. Its range of solar products includes handheld lamps, irrigation pumps, microgrids, home lighting systems, and street lights. We conducted 47 semi-structured interviews on camera with ONergy customers, partners, and employees in cities and villages throughout West Bengal and Odisha over the course of seven weeks. These interviews focused on the impact of ONergy’s products on customers’ lives and the business model that allows ONergy to reach its last-mile customers. Interviews conducted in Bengali and Odia were translated in the field and later transcribed in English.

Key Findings:

    1. ONergy’s innovative products deliver a wide range of benefits. Because ONergy offers such a diverse product portfolio, from solar lighting to solar irrigation, customers are impacted in different ways. In many cases, once customers experience the impact of one solar solution, they want another. Having such a wide range of products enables ONergy to continue to benefit its customers as they move up the energy ladder.
    2. Most of ONergy’s customers suffer from unreliable forms of energy. Though India’s grid has expanded and improved in recent years, poor infrastructure has led most customers to adopt more reliable energy technologies. Rural communities have the greatest need for ONergy’s products, since the grid decreases in effectiveness when moving away from urban areas.
    3. ONergy utilizes partnerships to reach those who need its products the most. ONergy partners with microfinance institutions, NGOs, and the government to extend its outreach, keep product costs low, and quickly build trust in new communities. Customers appreciate this model because it makes products affordable and gives them a known point of contact.



Social Enterprise:

Nathaniel Bradford
Communication, Economics  

Carson Whisler

Erika Francks
Environmental Studies  

Faculty Research Mentors:


Innovation Case Studies: These five case studies detail customer experiences with ONergy’s products and explain the partnerships ONergy maintains to distribute them in different areas. The case studies focus on solar irrigation pumps, solar microgrids, solar rooftop installations on schools and other institutions, and microfinance partnerships. One version of this document, titled “ONergy Case Studies,” was published by ONergy to market their products to potential customers, partners and investors. The document titled “Innovation Profiles” was designed by the Miller Center to display the fellows’ final deliverables to ONergy.

Investor Landscape Map: This document lists potential investors for ONergy to pursue, along with a strategy to raise investment. The landscape will be composed based on investors who have made similar investments in the past, along with grantmakers that participate in promoting distributed solar energy and agricultural livelihoods in India.

Human Resources Manual: This pamphlet highlights ONergy’s values as a company, giving new employees guidance on how to do business in a way that promotes company principles.


Videos: An investor-targeted video showing how ONergy uses a dynamic business model to fight energy poverty, as well as two product specific videos showing the benefits of solar irrigation and solar school rooftop installations.