BuffaloGrid announces £3.4m fundraise and partnership with India’s largest telecom provider Airtel to power to rural India’s mobile phones for free
Power is at the heart of modern society. It’s a fundamental building block which allows people to use devices, enabling connectivity, commerce and human interaction. While developing countries now have access to low priced devices and some internet coverage, power is hard to come by.
BuffaloGrid brings portable solar power to whole communities, keeping them connected to the rest of the planet and each other. The early backing by our friends at LocalGlobe was a great indication of the calibre of this team and the potential for them to be generation-defining.
The latest round of £1.8m is led by LocalGlobe with co-investment from ADV, Hardware Club and Seedcamp. On top of this, BuffaloGrid has secured £1.6m from Horizon 2020. BuffaloGrid’s total investment raised to date (in grants and venture) is £5.2m (other investors include Tiny VC, Unreasonable Impact and Microsoft’s Energy Access Initiative).
Also announced today is that BuffaloGrid’s technology is now live in villages across rural India, bringing internet-enabled mobile charging to thousands of people with limited access to electricity. Over 1.2 billion people in the world live without access to electricity. A market estimated to be worth $2.8bn globally and $1.1bn in India alone.
One pilot of BuffaloGrid’s latest technology is being run with Airtel, which is providing free mobile charging through BuffaloGrid to everyone who visits select stories in Northern India. Another pilot has been running with Sahaj eVillage (a retailer focused on bridging the digital divide in India) since early October. Both pilots are taking place in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh where under 50% of homes are electrified. BuffaloGrid expects over a million Indians to have used its technology by 2020.
Daniel Becerra, CEO of BuffaloGrid explains the purpose of these pilots: “While network coverage and data use across rural India is at an all-time high, power is still a major problem. Bringing power to these communities not only has a huge social impact but also presents a strong commercial case to businesses operating in these areas. This is something that was overlooked in the past. The organisations using our technology are already seeing how providing mobile charging in rural areas is helping to bring visitors into stores and increase the lifetime value of customers.”
Tom Wilson, Partner at Seedcamp said “The team at BuffaloGrid are tackling one of the biggest problems in the world right now. Helping to accelerate internet adoption will have a significant impact on the global economy. It’s why we’ve backed them in the next stage of their journey to bring power and internet to the next billion people on earth.”
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