FIP 65: Profit vs Impact Series 1/3 – with Arjun Bolangdy

For the first episode in our three-part series on “Profit Versus Impact”, today we hear from Arjun Bolangdy, Associate Vice President – Strategic Projects of Pollinate Energy, with a mission to improve the lives of India’s urban poor. Through providing energy products to BOP markets, Pollinate Energy works to improve their customers everyday lives, while at the same time empowering local entrepreneurs in India and raising awareness of social business across the country.

On this episode you’ll learn:

  • Arjun explains how Pollinate Energy’s unique fundraising model – with a non-profit enterprise in Australia which wholly-owns a for-profit in India – allows for the organization to scale to different cities and finance other value-addition activities.
  • How to low income customers pay for these products? Arjun details how Pollinate Energy extends credit to make their products affordable to their customers and how that relates back to making the company financially sustainable in each city.
  • Arjun details the overall model of the company, including the different and important roles of Pollinate Energy Australia and Pollinate Energy India and how the integration of these roles supports a growth model that covers Pollinate Energy India’s costs during the 18-24 month period it requires to breakeven in new cities.
  • What are other interesting aspects of Pollinate Energy’s model? Arjun shares about the company’s multiple fellowship programs that include “scout” fellows to map urban slums in new cities, as well as city “co-founders” to lead Pollinate Energy’s expansion into the city.
  • Arjun talks about the importance of balancing impact versus growth, for which the company uses city financial sustainability as a key metric. He explained the enterprise’s strategic decision to pause expansion for 2018 to focus on deepening its impact in the communities it already serves versus continual growth.
  • Finally, Arjun also spoke to some of their impact measurement tools, which center on customer surveys on direct impacts (shifts from kerosene-based to solar energy use) and indirect impacts (such as improved health, education outcomes, etc.), and how that data relates back to their fundraising model.

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