Background

Today, 1 billion people around the world live without reliable electricity. Access to reliable, affordable electricity can make the difference between living with prosperity and opportunity, or struggling with poverty and vulnerability.

237 million people in India lack access to electricity, most of them are in rural areas.

Even villages classified as electrified may have as few as 10% of households connected to the national grid. Even when a connection to the national grid is available, electricity may often be erratic, making it un-viable for enterprise or agricultural use.
Who We Are


Smart Power India (SPI) was established by The Rockefeller Foundation to implement the Smart Power for Rural Development (SPRD) program.

SPRD is an innovative program designed to deliver viable electricity solutions through decentralized renewable energy mini-grids.

Through the SPRD initiative, SPI spurs economic development among underserved rural population in India by providing access to reliable electricity and enables the setting up of commercially viable business models for ESCOs. The program goes beyond household lighting with a focus on productive use, by creating an ecosystem that drives socio economic development.

The program aims to electrify 1000 Indian villages, and impact more than a million lives.

This influx of reliable energy has given local entrepreneurs the means and confidence to start their own businesses—from cyber-cafes and convenience stores to manufacturing and water purifying plants.
What We Do

SPI works closely with a wide range of stakeholders critical to developing the ecosystem needed to build, catalyze and scale up the DRE mini-grid market. We accomplish this by providing assistance for various functions:

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    Providing project development support to assist ESCOs in structuring their engagement in terms of financing, business modeling, site and cluster selection, procurement, and training;

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    Supporting business development and contracting, including facilitating agreements with telecom tower companies, ESCOs, investors, and technology and equipment providers;

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    Participating in load development and community engagement to ensure strong local buy-in, economic development and sustained demand for power; and

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    Engaging in policy and regulatory discussions to align incentives between government, investors, and ESCOs to reduce risk in the long-term by supporting the creation of viable grid-interactive models.

Bridging the Energy Gap

The gap between electricity demand and supply in rural India remains large, and appears larger still when one considers the following:


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    Villages that were deemed electrified before April 2015 still have a large number of un-electrified households.

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    Smaller un-electrified hamlets are not counted in the census of “un-electrified villages”.

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    The reliability, measured in hours of supply, and the quality, measured by voltage, of electricity in many electrified villages remain poor.

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    Electricity is not always available for productive and economic uses, such as for local micro-enterprises.

Despite the government's ongoing efforts, a clear, critical gap remains between electricity supply and demand. Eliminating this gap will require alternative delivery models.

This presents a significant opportunity for the private sector: by creating viable models for delivering electricity, the private sector can complement government efforts, address the electricity gap and drive socio-economic development in rural India.

Smart Power India will work as a key partner to energy service companies (ESCOs), private sector, investors, NGOs and the Indian Government to reach the collective goal of bringing electricity to underserved villages in India.

Meet the Team

v Sidhartha Vermani
Director – Strategy and Development
Sidhartha leads Smart Power India’s strategy setting and development team.

He has close to two decades of experience and a noteworthy track record in both the FMCG industry and the social impact space. He has had a successful track record in category-expansion roles and has been instrumental in nurturing brands which are market leaders. Sidhartha was earlier associated with d.light as the marketing director Asia. He has also worked with the Times of India Group and Dabur among others.

He holds an MPA degree from the National University of Singapore, where he was a Li Ka Shing Scholar.
Samit Mitra
Director – Program Implementation
Samit leads the program implementation initiatives of Smart Power India, aimed at developing and implementing sustainable business models through renewable energy access. The work focusses on inclusion, job creation and rural livelihood enhancement and also on the implementation of SPI’s current as well as prospective rural market development initiatives.

Samit has over 20 years’ experience in leading business development and rural marketing initiatives for consumer products, renewable energy and social impact organizations.

In his most recent position, he was the profit and loss leader for Fieldking, a farm equipment manufacturing company. Prior to that, he was spearheading on-ground operations for solar technology and off-grid solution providers, such as Su-Kam Power Systems and d.light.
Disha Banerjee
Director – Policy and Communications
As the director of policy and communications, Disha works with government bodies, both at the state and the central level to enhance institutional support offered to the mini-grid sector. She also supports the ESCOs in their advocacy to better leverage existing policies and regulatory framework.

Disha’s experience encompasses the policy and regulatory affairs sector with special focus on policy advocacy, stakeholder engagement and management of new initiatives. She has over two decades of experience in the power sector. She has previously worked with Welspun Energy, Tata Power, SREI and FICCI in various capacities.

She has a doctoral degree in international relations from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, India.
Seema Chandel
Director – Finance and Operations
Seema oversees the finance and operations-related activities, including accounting, risk and audit, legal and statutory compliance, human resources and administration. She is responsible for managing reporting requirements and payroll and procurement processes, and maintaining financial control.

A fellow member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, Seema brings more than 18 years of work experience in the development sector, managing a diverse portfolio of finance, audit, administration and IT.

She is a certified trainer in financial management from Mango, UK.
Deepthy Menon
Communications Lead
Deepthy is responsible for designing, developing and implementing all communications initiatives of Smart Power India, both internally and externally.

She is a communications specialist with nearly 15 years of experience across journalism and the development sector. In her most recent position, she was the senior communication manager for the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie). As a development communications specialist, she has served as a consultant with various international organizations, including UNICEF and Breakthrough. Prior to joining the development sector, Deepthy was a broadcast journalist with Times Now and the India Today Group.

She has a Master’s in Geopolitics and Grand Strategy from the University of Sussex, UK, and a Master’s in Broadcast Journalism and Video Production from Symbiosis University, India.
Rahul Kumar Kandoi
Program Manager
Rahul is a member of the core implementation team of the Smart Power for Rural Development program. He plays a vital role in supporting the energy services companies in developing a commercially viable model for mini-grids.

He brings more than 10 years of experience with a successful track record in business development and project management of renewable energy projects across Asia and Africa. Rahul has worked in diverse functional areas including strategic planning, sales and marketing, operations and strategic alliances.

Prior to joining Smart Power India, he led the international business division for Emergent Ventures India. Rahul has an MBA from the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, Delhi.
Umang Maheswari
Manager – Special Initiatives
Umang leads the innovation portfolio, working closely with technology providers, energy service companies and other stakeholders, to implement innovations that lead to improved mini-grid plant performance.

Umang has over 9 years of experience in the development sector and business consulting. He has led business development initiatives in the social enterprise space for companies such as d.light and Greenway Grameen Infra, where he worked closely with international NGOs and technology distributors.

Umang has a B.E. degree from the Bharti Vidyapeeth University and is a fellow of the Unreasonable Institute.
Navdeep Gupta
Program Manager
As program manager, Navdeep supports Smart Power India’s partner energy service companies to improve mini-grid performance and new plant roll-out.

Navdeep has over 10 years’ experience in managing both off-grid and grid-connected renewable energy projects in India. In his previous role, Navdeep was a management consultant with Accenture. His clientele included MNRE, USTDA, global utilities, PE funds and IPPs.

Navdeep has a B. Tech. from IIT Delhi and an MBA from ISB, Hyderabad.
Gaurav Kawatra
Portfolio Manager
As portfolio manager, Gaurav supports the ESCOs in securing capital investments, evaluating business models and leading ESCO investment deals. He also plays a key role in pitching mini-grid business models to potential ESCOs.

Gaurav has 10 years’ experience spanning across private equity and renewable energy companies. He has a successful track record working across fund raising, mergers and acquisitions, and business and strategy development in leading companies, such as SunEdison, Welspun Energy and D.E. Shaw.

Gaurav is a commerce graduate and has an MBA from the ICFAI Business School, Hyderabad.
Sagar Gupta
Manager - Finance
Sagar is a chartered accountant from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and has served as finance manager for Smart Power India since 2016.

Currently, Sagar anchors the accounts and finance portfolio of Smart Power India, while ensuring statutory accounting and audit related compliances. He is responsible for the preparation of financial reports and annual budgets. Previously, he was part of the finance team of WaterAid.

Sagar has over 8 years’ experience in the field of accounting and finance.
Samuel Datta
Manager – Administration
Samuel is responsible for providing administrative support to SPI operations, implementing administrative systems, ensuring general office management, travel management and vendor management.

Over the last 13 years, Samuel has worked across various industries such as pharmaceuticals, media and education, in addition to the development sector. In his last two assignments with IJM and FRHSI, he was responsible for providing administrative support to the national/regional operations teams and to various state offices.
Aparna Dubey
Business Analyst
Aparna maintains the Smart Power Implementation Monitoring System and is responsible for generating MIS reports. She also conducts performance analysis across ESCOs and plant sites to evaluate and improve the SPRD business model, while developing processes to gather, consolidate and develop knowledge, assets and tools.

Aparna has 8 years’ experience in the development sectors and specializes in program management, business analysis and database management. In her last role with OMC Power, she had varied responsibilities, which included financial modelling, market research and analysis, pricing, MIS analysis for the finance, sales and technology verticals, DPR preparation, sales support and knowledge management.
Debabrata Bhuniya
State Manager – Bihar and Jharkhand
Debabrata Bhuniya is part of Smart Power India’s program implementation team working towards developing sustainable business models for renewable energy access. In his current capacity as state manager, he supports micro-enterprise development activities and community engagement programs across Bihar and Jharkhand. He has 16 years of work experience spanning the public health and business development space. He has worked with several key government bodies and local and international agencies towards promoting sanitation and reproductive health programs in India and supporting livelihood opportunities for women groups in Rajasthan. He has a proven track record of strengthening health services through public private partnerships (PPPs). Debabrata’s last assignment was with Ernst & Young where he led a technological intervention on immunization in Uttar Pradesh. He has a post-graduate degree in rural development from Xavier Institute of Social Service, Ranchi.
Prabhat Kumar Singh
State Manager – Uttar pradesh
Prabhat is part of the implementation team of the Smart Power for Rural Development Program. In his role as the state manager of Uttar Pradesh at SPI, he is responsible for the in-field execution and monitoring of community engagement and MED activities. Prabhat brings more than 17 years of experience with a noteworthy track record in the areas of public health, ITES, social/rural marketing, and designing and implementing rural development projects. He has, in the past, worked with organizations such as SREI Sahaj, CMIE, Pathfinder International, COMPFED, UNICEF and SSA. Prior to joining SPI, he led the programs division as senior manager at Population Services International, where he was responsible for the execution of the TB program funded by Global Funds across 5 States of India.
Satya Prakash Choubey
Senior Manager – Program Implementation
As senior manager – program implementation, Satya supports the in-field execution and monitoring of community engagement and MED activities. Satya has over 12 years’ experience in managing program implementation in rural settings across microfinance, livelihood, health and sanitation sectors. In his most recent role with Population Service International, he was leading the financial inclusion and sustainable sanitation solution program. Working out of Bihar, he was managing program implementation for Eastern India. He has been associated with several development and financial inclusion organizations such as Water for People, Access Development Services, IFMR and CARE India.
James Abraham
Founder and Director – SolarArise
James has over 25 years’ experience as a management leader in technology companies in the Americas and South-East Asia. He started his career with Bell Canada, developing advanced services and business models for emerging technologies (he helped develop and launch Canada’s first frame relay service). James joined the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in Toronto in 1994 and has worked in industries as diverse as paper, appliances, oil and gas, and automotive.

In 2009, he quit as senior partner with BCG to found Sunborne Energy. In 2014, he launched SolarArise, which focuses on financing and managing solar power plants over their lifetime.

He is a fellow of the Aspen Global Leadership Network, the India leadership initiative of the Ananta-Aspen Institute, and a moderator of Aspen’s value-based leadership programs.

James has a B.S. degree from the University of Waterloo, an MBA from Wharton, and an MA from the Johns Hopkins University.
Ashvin Dayal
Associate Vice-President and Managing Director, Asia – The Rockefeller Foundation
As associate vice-president and managing director, Asia, Ashvin manages The Rockefeller Foundation’s regional office based in Bangkok, Thailand, and oversees work across Asia, strengthening and complementing the foundation’s initiatives around the globe.

Ashvin leads the foundation’s Smart Power for Rural Development initiative aimed at scaling up decentralized renewable energy solutions for off-grid rural communities, and also oversees global efforts in Asia on strengthening institutional capacities for achieving universal health coverage, advancing cross-border collaboration in disease surveillance, and promoting an enabling environment for the growth of impact investing and philanthropy.

Before joining the foundation, Ashvin held various leadership roles over fifteen years with the British aid organization Oxfam Great Britain. He most recently headed their South Asia operations from New Delhi, India, where he was responsible for developing and managing strategy and programs focusing on disaster management, climate change resilience, private sector engagement and agricultural development, and promoting women’s economic leadership.
Jaideep Mukherji
Chief Executive Officer – Smart Power India
As the chief executive officer of SPI, Jaideep leads the India-based work of the Smart Power for Rural Development program.

With over 30 years’ experience , Jaideep showcases a strong track record in the areas of innovation and expansion of new product categories in the developing markets in both the consumer goods and the social enterprise sector.

During his stint with d.light, a pioneer in bringing affordable and reliable solar lighting devices to the developing nations, Jaideep was responsible for scaling up operations across India and other Asian markets. Previously, at McCain Foods, Jaideep headed the development of the frozen food market in India and executed the cold chain distribution, marketing and manufacturing strategies.

Board Members
Team

James Abraham
Founder and Director – SolarArise

Ashvin Dayal
Associate Vice-President and Managing Director, Asia – The Rockefeller Foundation

Jaideep Mukherji
Chief Executive Officer – Smart Power India

 

Sidhartha Vermani
Director – Strategy and Development

Samit Mitra
Director – Program Implementation

Disha Banerjee
Director – Policy and Communications

Seema Chandel
Director – Finance and Operations

Aparna Dubey
Business Analyst

Debabrata Bhuniya
State Manager – Bihar and Jharkhand

Deepthy Menon
Communications Lead

Gaurav Kawatra
Portfolio Manager

Navdeep Gupta
Program Manager

Prabhat Kumar Singh
State Manager – Uttar pradesh

Rahul Kumar Kandoi
Program Manager

Sagar Gupta
Manager – Finance

Samuel Datta
Manager – Administration

Satya Prakash Choubey
Senior Manager – Program Implementation

Umang Maheswari
Manager – Special Initiatives