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Devin D. Thorpe
Devin Thorpe

Acumen Investee Brings Solar Power To Masses In India

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Damian Miller wants to transform emerging market economies from fossil-fuel dependent to self-reliant on clean solar energy.

Miller isn’t just a dreamer; he’s making it happen. As the founder and CEO of Orb Energy he’s quickly scaling up his business in India and recently launched in Kenya. He is also a recent recipient of the SAP Social Entrepreneur Fellowship in collaboration with Acumen.

He explains Orb’s mission as follows:

Our company’s mission is to make solar energy affordable, accessible, and hassle-free to millions of customers looking for a better energy alternative. To do this, we first design and manufacture our own products for superior quality and cost. Then to deliver and install them to our customers in the right way, we have set up our own branch network – which is totally unique in the the solar market in India. This network is key to gaining customer trust, and effectively providing after-sales service. Finally we team up with banks for financing, but we are now looking at ways of bring this critical activity in-house to make it more streamlined.

Miller is also looking for help, he notes, “We are looking for investors, who believe in and share our mission for emerging market economies. Emerging markets are where the bulk of future greenhouse gas emissions will come from, and where there is an enormous opportunity – based on the prevailing solar resource and still emerging infrastructure – for solar to gain an early foothold. We hope that others will join us, so that we can strengthen and accelerate our activities.”

On Thursday, September 3, 2015 at noon Eastern, Miller will join me live from India for a live discussion here about his work. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes.

More about Orb Energy:

Orb Energy is a leading provider of solar energy solutions in India. We sell, install, and service solar systems for electricity and hot water, and we are vertically integrated with our own R&D and manufacturing plant in India. We have 140 branches in 8 states of India, of which about 50% are franchised. We have also recently entered Kenya with a new subsidiary there.

More about the SAP Social Entrepreneur Fellowship in collaboration with Acumen:

Twitter: @acumen

Acumen and SAP, global business software leader, have collaborated to create the SAP Social Entrepreneur Fellowship to accelerate the growth of social enterprises serving the poor in East Africa and India. Leveraging Acumen’s 14 years of investing in early-stage social enterprises and SAP’s global business and innovation expertise, this unique collaboration will bring together emerging and established CEOs committed to building sustainable, socially driven businesses, creating a more inclusive global economy, and expanding opportunities for the poor to lead lives of dignity and possibility.

Miller’s bio:

Damian Miller is the CEO of Orb Energy, and a leading expert on solar energy in emerging markets. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge (Trinity College), where he was based at the Judge Business School. His dissertation addressed the role of entrepreneurs in the diffusion of solar photovoltaic technology when solar markets were still in their infancy. After finishing his Ph.D. in 1998, he put his research findings into practice, joining Shell Solar and becoming its Director of Rural Operations. Here he established solar subsidiaries in India, Sri Lanka, Philippines, and Indonesia. He also implemented a large-scale solar project in China, and managed joint ventures in Morocco and South Africa. During this time he worked closely with multilateral and bilateral development agencies and emerging market governments to help grow local solar markets, overseeing the connection of more than 125,000 solar homes. At the end of 2006, he set-up Orb Energy in India with his co-founder NP Ramesh. In 8 years, Orb has become one of India’s leading providers of solar energy solutions, selling, installing, and servicing solar systems across multiple states in India, with ambitious plans for further expansion. He has lived, worked and traveled extensively throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa, and currently resides in Bangalore, India.

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